“I read everything. I read my way out of the two libraries in Harlem by the time I was thirteen. One does learn a great deal about writing this way. First of all, you learn how little you know. It is true that the more one learns the less one knows. I’m still learning how to write. I don’t know what technique is. All I know is that you have to make the reader see it. This I learned from Dostoyevsky, from Balzac.”
Excerpted from Averno
The brightness of the day becomes
the brightness of the night;
the fire becomes the mirror.
My friend the earth is bitter; I think
sunlight has failed her.
Bitter or weary, it is hard to say.
Between herself and the sun,
something has ended.
She wants, now, to be left alone;
I think we must give up
turning to her for affirmation.
Above the fields,
above the roods of the village houses,
the brilliance that made all life possible
becomes the cold stars.
Lie still and watch:
they give nothing but ask nothing.
From within the earth’s
bitter disgrace, coldness and barrenness
my friend the moon rises:
she is beautiful tonight, but when is she not beautiful?
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
“I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.”
“There is enough for our need but not for our greed.”
I love the dark hours of my being
in which my senses drop into the deep.
I have found in them, as in old letters,
My private life, that is already lived through,
And become wide and powerful now, like legends.
Then I know that there is room in me
For a second huge and timeless life.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, Selected Poems, Robert Bly translation
“When you’re writing, you’re trying to find out something which you don’t know. The whole language of writing for me is finding out what you don’t want to know, what you don’t want to find out. But something forces you to anyway.”
If I believed in a god, he would be a sea god, like the sea
in its predictability—now approach, now recede—beneath
such a god I would not mind, I think, being the shore, say of the sea
what you will, it’s the shore that endures the routine loss
without which what strategies would there be for softening
the hollowness that any victory, give it time, comes with,
how curb the risk of arrogance, with its doomed but
not undangerous hound, complacency?
… I made this for you—
put it on. I know it’s not going to matter whether the decisions
I made were the ones eventually I even meant to make, or
should have, or should have thought maybe more than
twice about. What’s history anyway, except—according to
the latest mouth saying so—just what happened: I flourished
undramatically, to no apparent purpose, like pretty much
everyone. The sea dragged the shore; the shore suffered the sea.
July 13, 2013
Saturday afternoon: in the driveway between buildings they blow up
balloons—yellow, red, blue—for a 3-year-old’s party.
The intermittent pops startle me like random gunfire—remind me
of birthdays brown boys will no longer celebrate.
The DJ, having set up the speakers, begins to play—the music, a rapid fire
of bass thump, commandeers the apartment. We have no choice but leave.
An art show: canvases colored with boxes and lines—a grid of red
on a backdrop of yellow. We speak of the abstract with wine in our mouths.
Meanwhile, in an antechamber, six are sequestered. They speak of mali-
cious intent, blood, evidence, testimony—murder versus manslaughter.
We arrive home to a throng of brown bodies, hands clutching red cups,
and music: its insistent treble stabbing the ears.
Inside, we slam all windows, but the music still blares as my niece shoots
people on the video game—its sounds are too realistic to bear.
Instead, the news, a verdict is in: not guilty. And everything is a blur
of sound, my heart beating so fast I put a hand to my chest.
I watch the TV screen: a collage of abstractions—spotlights, microphones,
smiles, handwritten signs. I stare, as if it were a painting—
a smear of twisted faces smothered in gesso and oil, a grid of red
on a backdrop of yellow—to make sense of.
The party continues. The 3-year-old probably in bed dreaming of melted
ice cream, and I am tired of partying.
There is a police station a half block away and I want it to burn. Instead,
only the smoke of weed, the meaningless music droning on,
the popping of balloons. Sunday morning, the birds are angry—their
chirping a noisy chant: NO NO NO NO. Outside, the rubbery flesh
of balloons color the driveway like splotches of paint. In an instant,
those still lives of heave and breath—gone in a pop.
First, I’d like to have a disclaimer that this is my first “music” post since 2017, which is frightful and embarrassing. There has been a flood of great music that I missed writing about. I won’t be able to catch up, unfortunately. We are just going to start now — and enter the present moment. Hope you understand. xoxo – H
Her name is Mikaela Straus. Her essence is King Princess. This Brooklyn-based goddess entered the scene with single “1950,” and has spiraled up into queer stardom now working with Mark Ronson. (If you’d like more intel, Spotify has a really great bio that you are not going to read here, but here.) I’m impressed mostly with her vocals and her attitude of self-producing. She seems to have grown up in a recording studio by result of her parents being recording artists.
After absorbing more of King Princess, I have come to the conclusion that she’s full of herself — to which I think, as opposed to what? What else should she be full of? She ought to be full of herself. We all should be full of ourselves. And this is the magic of KP. Her fullness is not “conceited,” her fullness is focused. She’s focused on being exactly who she is on every level and sharing that with us as listeners. It’s brave and heart-felt. Musically smart, and, just wow. So I’m obsessed.
If you’re not already listening to her, my top 2 starter songs are “Talia” and “Holy.”
September is about new beginnings. Listen to KP for a new beginning in self-love and self-expression. Be unafraid of who you are.
This first video below is King Princess talking with other people about who they truly are, too. (I love this.) And Mikaela, if you read this, can we be friends, like right now?! I’m rooting for you. ❤