Monday, January 30, 2017

The Way the World Ends

If the sun should slowly go dark
settling us into eternal lightless night
the windows of our souls shuttered for good
and in the twilight of this fading star falls the shadow
dooming us to gloomy dusky death
I would mourn
for the way the dawn illuminates the golden sweep of your hair across your face
for the reflection of radiance in your eyes as you look down into mine
for the morning backilght on the bare curve of your hip
edging you
coming alive
you me and the sun
If the sea should rise up tumid past its shores
quondam polar ice caps drowning us in retribution
robbing our lungs of precious air
god repenting him of having made us sinners
cleansing tenuous life from this holy sphere
I would cry
for breaths stolen between kisses
for waves of laughter sent into the night
for the musk of you, redolent of sandalwood and sweat and sand
gasps of joy and pleasure between the breakers
getting high
you, me, and the sea
If the earth should slip off its axis
gravity slackening and whirling us from its surface
setting us adrift into the cold vacuum of space
no longer bound to ground or bound for heaven
hurling us from its tired back between the motion and the act
I would ache
for the hot weight of your arm across my sleepy chest
for the heft of your strong body in my loving arms
for the gut-wrenching freefall of trusting you, and soft landings in your solid embrace
falling in general, in love
garden paths and rabbit holes for
going down
you, me, and the earth
If fire should start to rain down from the sky
incinerating our forests and our villages and homes
searing flesh and spreading densest smoke across the land
cinder and brimstone raining like the judgment of Gomorrah
scorching our skin and setting our frames ablaze like dry grass
I would grieve
for the chill of your kiss evaporating on my forehead
for winter evening walks in the crook of your arm
for snuggling up to you before the hearth against the cold
cool breath on sweaty necks
blowing
you, me, and the fire
I hope when we go, if we do, it is not with a whimper, but a bang.

3 Limericks About Llamas

There was a republican llama.
He drank and he caused himself trauma.
He fell off the roof
and injured his hoof
and blamed the whole thing on Obama.

 A llama was once named petunia.
Or maybe she was a vicuña.
Every time that she'd dance,
off came her pants.
If you stood behind her she would moon ya.

 Incontinence plagued an alpaca.
It ruined attempts to play soccer.
When he dribbled the ball,
the ball was not all
that he dribbled: there also was caca.

Sonnet # 6

I love the beach on brilliant sunny days
With sky and sea reflecting golden rays,
The hot white light that shimmers on the sand,
The swimmers' bodies oiled, taut, and tanned.

On such a brilliant day I love you, too.
When skies and eyes both shine the brightest blue
When brows and shores are free of stormy guile
And sunshine beams from waves and from your smile.

But when the fog rolls in across the bay
A solemn beauty permeates the grey
The swells are gorgeous flecked with tears and rain
The cliffs are stunning through the wind and pain

The beach and you are in a class together
I love you irrespective of your weather.

Need More Space?

“need more 
space?” 
asks sign
on my way 
home. the sign
is attached to a 
large (compared to 
me) building. i 
look up past the 
sign and the 
building and see winter 
stars, the blazing 
bottom half of the 
moon, the andromeda 
galaxy, and all the 
black between. it 
is interesting to me that 
in actuality almost 
all of the known 
universe is 
space
that we live 
on a planet with 
more sea than 
land, that 
even the atoms of 
your body and 
mine are more 
space 
than matter, that i 
will spend more moments 
of my life without 
you than in your sweet 
presence. so no, we 
have plenty of 
space
dear sign. it
is the everything 
else that we need.

Smokebreak Outside the Silver Reign Gentlemen’s Club, Autumn

She closes her eyes toward the setting sun like a prayer, her skin tanned, her shirt white, her hair the color of honey, an ember between two fingers at her side. She likes the way the air is cool and the sun is warm here in November, likes that from half a block down you can smell the pine trees over the Quiznos and the shawarma place, likes that from here the 10 sounds enough like the ocean. She traces a finger along brick rough like a man’s stubble, and lets herself really feel it. A shirtless youth glides by on his board, his face tuned to her body, and she notices. A raven caws somewhere, a newspaper with the angry faces of candidates flaps half-heartedly against a stopsign pole, a helicopter is searching for someone toward Brentwood. She focuses her thoughts on the fire inside of her. For a moment, at least, she has found peace.

She doesn’t seem to know what I know.

Soon she will frown at her watch, drop her cigarette on the ground, grind it out and go back to work. The butt will lie there as a reminder, fading over the next few days, its paper shell breaking down and the brown tobacco inside puffing out like the guts of an overloved teddy bear, and on Thursday the street cleaner will angrily snatch it up and no human being will ever contemplate it again. The newspaper, too, will deteriorate, but new ones will be printed every day until the old people die off and only the web version remains. One of those candidates will win and people will have feelings about it, and in four years there will be new angry faces on the papers. The helicopter won’t find its man this time, but it will find other men sometimes and one day the force will get an upgrade and this one will sit in storage until they sell it to CBS for a period cop show that will be set now.

The needles will one by one fall off these pine trees and turn to dirt and be replaced by new needles, entire branches will turn brown and a man from the city will remove them in a cherry picker with a power saw. The sidewalk will crack, and men from the city will fix that, too. The Quiznos will close for a while and reopen as a boba place and then a vegan sandwich store. The shawarma place will get passed down to the owner’s daughter, who didn’t want it. Eventually the whole building will be torn down and replaced by a mixed-use development with apartments above a Coffee Bean, an art supply store, and a small gym.

The youth whizzing by has a few more years of still being one. As winter comes, and again with middle age, he’ll take his shirt off less and less. One day after his mom’s funeral he’ll find his board behind the freezer in her garage, and he’ll turn with a disbelieving smile to show it to someone, but there won’t be anyone there.

The girl will finish her shift, pay her rent, come back here tomorrow and the next days and take more breaks. She will put these shoes in a bag that she means to take to the Goodwill on Santa Monica, and then throw it away when she moves because her daughter is getting too big to not have her own room. The shirt will go out of style and she’ll think of it as her “grungies” that she wears for housework, and then it’ll be a rag for dusting. She will experience joy and pain, her body will be mistreated by men with faces like brick and by time itself. Younger girls will start making the kind of money she now makes. She will buy new parts. She will try new hair colors as an affordable way of reinventing herself. She’ll get a new job in a bar where the men drink to forget things and she will make many of them feel noticed again for a moment. Her idea of success will gradually shift to being about making her daughter successful instead. Something dark will grow in her, caused by the tanning or the cigarettes or the sun. She will be buried in a wig the color of honey. Her daughter will cry and wonder what moments she may have missed, never knowing like I do about this golden moment in the sun.

I myself will turn grey one day. I will lose my words as aluminum takes over my neural pathways, and I will die. I will write this all down in my computer so people might remember me once I’m gone, and they will for a while, and then they won’t.

This whole city will grow and grow upward and outward. The sea will encroach and the Novembers will get warmer. They will ration the water. Legislation will be passed to try to limit the population. Bricks will turn to red dust and blow away. The American empire will fall. Overpasses will house the people and then crumble. Future excavators will find remnants of computers in the earth and never unlock the writings inside. In seven billion years, the sun’s core will run out of hydrogen and then helium, and its outer layers will expand rapidly and envelop the earth, melting its nickel core and vaporizing all known life. Entropy will leave the universe cold and black like marbles coming to rest after a spill.

She doesn’t seem to know any of this.

She frowns at her watch, drops her cigarette to the ground, grinds it out and goes back to work. For a moment, she, at least, has found peace. Another moment passes. A raven caws somewhere. I close my eyes toward the setting sun like a prayer.

Haiku #1

colors glow brighter
beauty precedes the darkness
twilight of mankind

Haunted

Haunted

 by robbie x pierce

I swear I heard my father’s groan:
Fatigue distilled into my ears.
But I am in the house alone
And he’s been dead for seven years.

Might his exhausted, heavy breath
Be echoing around my heart?
Has he unclamped the chains of death
With one last message to impart?

 This was exactly that old sigh
He’d breathe when getting home at night
And hearing now, I can’t deny
I see him in another light.

 Back then we children yelled and played
And rolled our eyes at groans from dad,
And now they’re back I’m not afraid;
This ghostly sound just makes me sad.

 I guess this happens when you’re grown
And scraping home from work alone.
You swear you hear your father’s groan
But it’s not his; it’s just your own.

Through the Darkness

A boy murmurs, crestfallen, his voice not yet changed. He stands with a man with postures like they might not know each other, definitely not family. It’s warm for January, dark for seven o’clock. The sounds are: high school kids clanging latchkey doors, dogs jingling their masters along, the helados truck playing its calliope siren, the grand traffic of La Brea, grandmothers calling the children to dinner.

The boy and the man stand like they’re stuck here outside this apartment gate, unsure, travelers despairing of a rendezvous at a darkening oasis. He’s a light-skinned boy, his knees plump and ashy, dorky in his basketball shorts and his mix of disappointment and failed bravery. The man wears a beanie and all black; he didn’t go to any job today. The tired sort of man with skin that will always be watched in businesses. As he responds to the boy he looks wearily up the street both ways without letting the boy see.

“You know she loves you, man. She buys you food, she buys you nice shoes, she takes you on trips.” The boy murmurs again, perhaps more hopeful this time, but now I’m past. No one is coming up the street with keys out, hugging and apologizing and blaming dead phones. Just the boy and the man, standing there hoping defiantly in the barred shadows of a gate.

God bless the tired men who heal these hurting boys, and god bless the boys who see love in a meal and a trip and basketball shoes that shine through the darkness all the way back to my own house.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Bishop

So I went in. He had a picture on the wall of the Martin Handcart Company and another of Jesus. He had a Jelly Belly dispenser on his desk , which made me trust him, and we laughed about how there are cappuccino jelly beans in there, and how he has debated the moral dilemma of serving them to his ward members vs. touching all the jelly beans to pull them out. He was maybe my age, like the ghost of who I might have been if I had been able to do the church and the wife thing. We talked about our families and work and where we live and where we grew up. He talked about being a very logical type; he pulled out of his desk blueprints from the 40s of the meeting house we were in, and we laughed about antique Mormonads he had in there. We skirted around the church thing for long enough that I half feared he would get up and shake my hand and say, "well I just wanted to get to know you," before he ever actually got to know me. And then he asked my relationship with the church.
I took a halting breath and just set in. I told him I'd grown up with a wild, verdant faith, that I had had the full support of my leaders growing up. That I'd been a very orthodox Mormon, not drinking Coke or watching R-rated movies, and not because I felt compelled or tricked, but because I cared so deeply. I told him about the stages of my coming out, how I'd given up first on trying to change my orientation, then on keeping it a secret, then on dating girls. He told me he had a gay brother; I thanked him for saying "sexuality" and not "same-sex attraction" or the countless other Mormon euphemisms for me that are the verbal equivalent of avoiding eye contact. I told him how I'd striven in my years in Provo to know everyone in my ward, how much I loved the saints, how I'd once held seven callings at once because I'd heard people say that their mission was the most spiritual time of their lives and I didn't want that to be true for me. I told him how I'd often go after the lost sheep, never wanting the members to feel abandoned or forgotten. I told him how I'd stayed with the church through Prop 8, how I'd made it my goal to make sure other gay Mormons didn't lose their way, how I'd been an activist and helped change the BYU Honor Code to be more inclusive.
I cried. I told him that I wanted a family, perhaps because I grew up LDS, perhaps just because I'm human, but I wanted it. I told him about the miracles I'd seen, and how I had taken them as a sign that the church is true, but how I'd had that correlation challenged over the years. I told him how I'd read Alma 32 and realized I didn't have a "control" in my experiment on the word, and about the period when I'd decided to experiment with not going to church, and about how I'd been able to find peace and joy and spirituality in other ways in my life. I told him how I had mourned my relationship with the church, how hearing the songs and the stories reminded me of my culture, how the travails of the pioneers were my legacy and my heritage. I got it all out. I told him I wasn't bitter about the church, but I was hurt. I told him I never felt oppressed by the church when I was there, but I felt the oppression my people felt. I looked at the picture of the young men carrying the saints across the frozen river, and I told him I felt so sad for my fellow gay Mormons, that someone needed to "go and bring them in." I told him that I rejected the old folk wisdom that "you can leave the church but you can't leave the church alone," and that it was the church who couldn't leave us alone. I told him how devastated I'd been by the November 5th revelation that the church wouldn't baptize the children of gay couples, how the church just this morning had sent a note to be read over every pulpit in Mexico instructing members to take on the gay marriage fight in their country. I cried ugly, snotty tears as I told him the church was still causing so much damage, and that my people were lost, they were hurting, they were still killing themselves. He cried, too.


He told me compassionately that he believed belief is a choice, and I agreed. I told him how I'd watched hundreds of my friends leave the church, and how I'd understood that God would be merciful. I told him that I appreciated all the church had done for me and my family, that we'd been supported by our ward for a few months when my parents divorced, that I'd had amazing role models and leaders and friends growing up, and that it was important for me to sift through all the church had given me and keep was was precious to me. He used the word "microcosm," and I thought, "he understands me." I told him how an acting coach had taught me how to be honest and to love myself and accept the fact that I'd let people down. I told him if I could forgive others, I could forgive myself, and if I could choose to believe, I could choose not to, and if I could see the good the church was doing in my life, I could see the bad. I shook as I asked him what was the point of the Holy Ghost in my life if every time it contradicted church leaders, I was supposed to accept that I was in the wrong. I told him I'd never regretted following the stirring of my heart, but I did regret some of the dark places I'd gone when I followed the brethren even when my heart cried out in protest. I told him about Neal. I told him that the younger me had believed the apostles when they said this love is counterfeit and my happiness is a lie. I told him that if this love and happiness are not real, then I'd never felt the real things in the church, either.
He told me how his mom had cried about his brother. I told him I knew how much it must hurt a mom to think she's losing her son in the eternal realm. I told him I don't know how to fix that. He didn't either, and that made us the same.
He asked me if I believed in God or in Jesus Christ, and I rambled and searched and eventually told him that whatever I had believed were God and Jesus are still working in my life, whatever I thought was the Holy Ghost still guides me, and they may or may not be God, but I'm at a place where I don't need to label them as much as just let them work in my life.
I thanked him for reaching out to me. I told him that after all my years of working in the church, nobody from my ward had ever come looking for me. I said that I didn't think I was owed anything like that, but that it had been a disillusionment. Like when you realize the person you're dating is only a version of them that you'd made up in your head. I told him I'd been ghosted by the church, that it felt like a breakup where you just never hear from the other person again.
He didn't call me to repentance. He didn't invite me to church. He didn't try to fix me. He asked questions. He wanted to know about reparative therapy, and we laughed about what a terrible idea that had ever been. He told me he didn't have answers, but he had hope for them. He asked what advice I would give him. I didn't. He didn't say "excommunicate" or "hearing." He seems to be doing the Christian thing very well. He said that even if his ward were a totally welcoming and open place, he couldn't stop the next general conference from coming. He said he was sorry the church couldn't be the one I envisioned. I said I didn't expect it to be, that a church is either run by God or it isn't. He acknowledged that the church does a lot of good, but also causes a lot of harm. He cried with me. He hugged me. He offered help if I ever need it. He offered a heartfelt prayer free from subtext or preaching and full of thanksgiving and benediction. He gave me more Jelly Bellies. He offered me a ride home, but I was on my bike. He showed me the stained glass of the chapel.
After all these years I felt some closure. It felt like two exes sitting down over coffee, saying they're sorry and explaining to each other with the clarity that years bring why they'd broken up in the first place and how they'd always love each other, even when the relationship was no longer serving them.
He said I changed his life. I don't know in what ways, but I believe it. He changed my life as well.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

My TV Shows

First up: Shows I’m waiting for more episodes of. These are shows that are currently on the air and I’ve seen everything they’ve done to this point and am waiting for more. A * means I’m watching on hulu or netflix and therefore there are episodes I haven’t seen because they aren’t available to me yet. I did not count shows that are getting reboots, like 24 or the X-Files, as being currently on the air.


Louie
4 seasons*
A+
The Fall
2 series
A+
Orange is the New Black
3 seasons
A+
Broad City
2 seasons
A+
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
1 season
A+
House of Cards
3 seasons
A
Bloodline
1 Season
A
Daredevil
1 season
A
Arrow
2 seasons
A-
Sense8
1 season
A-
Wayward Pines
5 episodes
B
How to Get Away with Murder
1 Season
B-


Next is shows that are still being produced as of this last season, and I still intend to watch them or am currently watching them but have not caught up yet. * indicates that I don’t currently have access to the show. ^ means I am watching right now.

Episodes*
3 episodes
A+
The Comeback
3 episodes
A+
The Wire*
1 season
A+
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
1 season
A
Orphan Black*
1 season
A
Workaholics*
2 seasons
A
True Detective^
3 episodes
A
Archer
4 seasons
A
Community
5 seasons
A
The Big Bang Theory
1 season
A-
American Crime
3 episodes
A-
The Flash
4 episodes
A-
Black-ish
6 episodes
A-


Then there are shows that are still airing, but I’ve given up on them. Ratings are obviously based on my own limited viewership. Also including when/why I severed ties.

The Simpsons
6 seasons
Felt I outgrew it.
A
South Park
1 season, 3 episodes
Jerking us around with who is Cartman's dad.
A
Game of Thrones
4 seasons, 2 episodes
The purple wedding, clear there's no endgame
A
Marvel’s Avengers Assemble
6 episodes
I'm not a child
A
Grace and Frankie
5 episodes
Realized I'm not the demographic
A
Hannibal
4 episodes
Hated the Hannibal character.
A-
Bates Motel
1.5 seasons
Too much pot farming, not enough murder.
B+
Brooklyn 99
8 episodes
I just forgot about it
B+
The Walking Dead
2.5 seasons
Killed the two actresses I started watching for.
B+
Girls
1 episode
Is this how girls are when I'm not around?
B
Under the Dome
5 episodes
Too different from the book.
B
BoJack Horseman
3 episodes
Tiring and cynical
B
Gotham
Most of 1 season
Just too easy to see what they should be doing
C
Scandal
1 episode
Nobody talks like this.
C
American Horror Story
1 season
All subsequent season premieres are a mess
C-
Once Upon a Time
2 seasons
Loose ends being dropped all over.
C+
The Blacklist
3 episodes
Terrible lead actress and unbelievable plot.
D
The Last Man on Earth
1 episode
Aggravating and nihilistic.
D

There are also sketch shows where I’ve seen large chucks of the show, but I don’t watch in order.


Saturday Night Live
A+
Portlandia
A+
Key & Peele
A+
Inside Amy Schumer
A+

Now for shows that are finished. First, the ones I’ve seen all of:


Arrested Development
4 seasons
A+
Lost
6 seasons
A+
The X-Files
9 seasons
A+
Coupling
6 series
A+
Firefly
1 season
A+
Breaking Bad
5 seasons
A+
Seinfeld
9 seasons
A+
Band of Brothers
1 season
A+
30 Rock
7 seasons
A+
Don’t Trust the B--- in Apartment 23
2 seasons
A+
The Muppet Show
4 seasons
A+
Looking
2 seasons
A
24
9 seasons
A
Pushing Daisies
2 seasons
A
Monty Python’s Flying Circus
4 series
A
House
8 seasons
A
Battlestar Galactica
4 seasons
A
Sherlock
3 series
A
The Office (British)
1 series
A
X-Men
5 seasons
A
Extras
2 series
A
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
2 seasons
A
Batman: The Animated Series
3 seasons
A-
Strange Luck
1 season
B+
Lois and Clark
4 seasons
B
The 4400
4 seasons
B
Heroes
4 seasons
C


Then shows I still intend to finish:


The Wire
1 season
A+
Absolutely Fabulous
1 series
A+
Friday Night Lights
3 seasons
A+
Happy Endings
5 episodes
A+
Twin Peaks
Until the murderer is revealed
A


And then there are the defunct shows that I gave up on. Grades based on the impression I’m left with after I quit.

Misfits
3 series
Replaced the cast
A+
Brothers and Sisters
2 seasons
Weirdness with sibling love
A
Damages
3 seasons
Got repetitive
A
ER
5 seasons
Lost touch with it
A
Boston Legal
2 seasons
Mark Valley left
A-
Friends
7 seasons
Lost touch with it
B+
Smallville
2 seasons
Tired of Monster of the Week
B-
Prison Break
3 seasons
Retconned Sara's death
C
Glee
3 seasons
Became preachy instead of satirical
C
The Office (American)
5 seasons
Tired of it even before Michael left
C
How I Met Your Mother
1 season
Realized I don't enjoy this show
D
Parks and Recreation
2 seasons
Do not like the characters
D
Fringe
3 episodes
Actively hated this show
F


Finally, shows I watched so religiously as a kid that I’m sure I watched full seasons of them. Any kids’ shows mentioned above I have watched as an adult.


Animaniacs
A+
Ducktales
A+
Saved by the Bell
A
Batman
A
Smurfs
A
Tiny Toon Adventures
A
Spider-Man
A
Scooby Doo
A
Boy Meets World
A
Full House
B+
Perfect Strangers
B
The Real Ghostbusters
B-