Sunday, September 29, 2013

Slow Joy

A consuming feeling of torpor satisfies the imagination.
It traps you into permanence by holding your neck
in a manner that eliminates your need for legs.
It absolves you of your ineptitude so a smooth feeling
can take over and help you remain pliant during conflicts.
I’ll swirl into your life and groove to your mind. Please remember:
it's only chemicals making decisions for your hips. Lucky for us,
clouds make a grand beverage. She was, like, the perfect guy.
Night dangles pink before us. It surges into the room with a final flash
and then it’s gone, and night. I'm not sure what to do
with the rest of my time here. I watched a man feed sliced deli ham
to pigeons in the park. That’s something to think about.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Loretta Howard Gallery

Hi Friends, If you happen to be in Chelsea today at 4pm, drop by the Loretta Howard Gallery (525 W. 26th St) where I'll be reading my poems along with Marcella Durand and Maureen Howard in celebration of the fantastic John Ashbery Collects show curated by Emily Skillings and Adam Fitzgerald XO

Dream I Had

Friday, September 27, 2013

Apprentice in the Sun

A certain harm had come over them,
so daily life was a bit of a struggle.
They were in a spot of bother, and it showed
in their weathered features. Perhaps
some moisturizer or a rifle butt. The day
moved along in swift chunks. By nightfall
all the miracles of paralyzation went on for decades.
There is a sweetness to raw honey that burns the throat.
Out in the morning again, singing about, they
loved life and were happy to be alive. At the same
time: a wall of confusion, a blurring of time.
When they looked at the ticket stubs taped
in the back of an old journal, it was like
time travel, each a nugget thrusting forward
and backward, on and on - until the next day
made them squint from the low hung sun.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

We Have an Anchor by Jem Cohen

At The Brooklyn Academy of Music, now.

The City, Tonight

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Captain

We taught the captain how to interact better with others and play the piano. He was a tremendous showman, and he displayed it by behaving appropriately. He was hungry after he played for us, so we made him walk, and he was good at walking. We never approached the captain if he was eating, sleeping or chewing. We exposed him to many different situations, and many different people so he knew how to act appropriately. We enjoyed watching him move. We never left the captain unattended. We stroked the captain affectionately until his head landed in the crook of his arm. He was not aggressive or territorial. If the captain was bothered by people outside, we removed him from the window. Please: no pinching, hitting or pulling on it, no matter how tolerant the captain may be. The captain’s personality and physical demands complemented our lifestyle. We don’t allow anyone to play tug of war with the captain. Monitor the captain until you hear a tinkle and bonk sound coming from his piano. If the captain appears nervous, anxious or afraid, immediately remove him from the situation. We made sure there were no holes or gaps in the fence so the captain couldn’t escape. We observed him there a good many hours. So tired was the captain, so very tired.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Next Big Thing

We did our best to relax
on all cylinders so you wouldn’t have to be fearful
or make grave mistakes in our absence.
We’ll give you some hand practice.
Can you calm people down naturally?
What you need to do is encourage the
passengers around you to grow and develop. Go ahead,
tell them you are keen on growth and development.
Question: if you had the whole day to live on high doses
of relaxing things, what would you do to charm them
into thinking they were elegant and stable?
The light around you is rich with uranium protein.
Try again, this time with more conviction.
What did you do this summer in 100 words or less?
How was your money spent? Are you classy yet?
Did you finish your Hegel? Fuck to Brahms?
I know this: you are alive and bucking on the train.
You can't have upheaval without
profanity, and you’re right.

Tuesday with Jacques Lacan

"Fantasms cannot bear the revelation of speech."
-Jacques Lacan, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, p. 80

Monday, September 23, 2013


Saturday, September 28, 2013, 4pm
Loretta Howard Gallery
525 West 26th St., New York, New York

Acclaimed novelist Maureen Howard and poets Todd Colby and Marcella Durand read at Loretta Howard Gallery in an afternoon celebration of the exhibition: "John Ashbery Collects: Poet Among Things." This is the first of four events organized around the exhibit.

For more information about the exhibit please visit: Loretta Howard Gallery

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I never wanted to discourage
you from coming to Tinseltown.
My intentions were far from that.
I invested in a chest strap
and safety cones, rose water,
and a red light filter
with some glazed candy
for your concentration.
I even purchased a crystal pedestrian
warning bell and some denim
iron-on patches with wolverine logos
for your flight jacket.
I guess it never occurred
to you that these things cost cash money
and that they’d eventually
all have to be returned
in their original packaging
with the proper receipts, of course.
I mean, dude.

Sunday Morning from my Desk

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ghost Story

If ghosts ever come into your house looking to seriously move things around and make noise in the shadows like the weird little shits they are, then you really need to appear preoccupied and let them know right off the bat that they should not interfere with the flow of your life, because you are simply too busy to fuck with.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Simple Times

I'll always be pulling for them despite the circumstances
of their evolution. I've come to know them as swift
and precise, not empty or lame in the least. I masticated
delight in an effort to feed them with my wit. They washed
their mouths out with my loving sentences.
And then this word, I can't say it.
We get older without noticing another year has come and gone.
I am all they need. And all they say I am. And more too, they'll see.
I'll love them by never letting them know. That’s just the way I roll.
The night is full of fair creatures, and the sky, oh so perfectly
huge. I will climb the stairs with something gooey in my arms.
But I'd rather be carried like a canvas sack full of mint jelly.
Today I got windswept while speeding
through Manhattan on a machine.
My bones softened the cars. What I'd like to know is
when this fever will break. I'll go to work and they will not know
what has become of me in my sleep.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rewind: My Interview with an Astronaut

This is Part 1 of an interview with my cousin, astronaut Raymond Colby. We conducted the interview via email last Monday, April 25th. Raymond currently lives in Austin, Texas where he is a professor of Physics at The University of Texas. He travelled to space on the shuttle seven times from 2000-2005. I'm really thrilled to share the interview here. Thanks Raymond!

Me: Raymond, you've been to space 7 times, what is something you recall from being up there that you'd like to share?

Raymond: I remember the terrible smell of the suits we wear, which are largely made of graphite and a pliable titanium developed by 3M called "Motional." It doesn't exactly breathe well, so any sweating one does in the suit basically remains in the suit and stays fairly damp for hours.

Me: Is there an evacuation hole?

Raymond: Ha! I knew you'd go there. Yes, the suits have a removable waist that allows us to remove waste, so to speak.

Me: Did you ever have a freak out scene in outer space?

Raymond: Once I was the only one awake in the shuttle in 2003 and we were coming up over the Strait of Gibraltar and I swore I saw a prism that looked like a face coming over the edge of the earth. It was probably a solar flare of some sort but for about 10-seconds or so I could have sworn it was a face peering over the edge of the earth. That's basically the biggest freak out I've had out there.

Me: Anything floating around up there that you've seen?

Raymond: There is a considerable amount of debris up there. Old satellite parts no bigger than a peanut tend to cluster together in zero gravity (we actually call them "nut clusters"). They're mostly harmless but when we pass through them it would always startle me with the odd clanging as the cluster dispersed as we'd pass through it. The other thing is the way things sound in space. It's almost as though everything is amplified through very cheap car speakers. Even other astronaut's voices take on a tinny quality that seems to be lacking any bottom or bass. It's unnerving at first, but one becomes accustomed pretty quickly.

Me: Why does this happen?

Raymond: Everything outside of the earth's atmosphere is negatively charged meaning that even sound is made of waves and particles so the heavier parts of our speech are drawn away and dissipated so all that is left are the so-called lighter parts of speech and sound. The human ear detects sound only through this extraction of sound particles, so when this process is interrupted all we are able to sense is the lack of heavy particles in the bits of sound we receive, hence the experience of sound as being "tinny" in outer space. Dr. Neal London has done a number of very interesting sound experiments in space that can be seen on youtube. The most interesting one he did was recording the sound of a baby crying (it was his son!) and playing the recording outside the shuttle from a speaker directly into space. He placed a microphone on the nose of the shuttle and the sound that he recorded sounded like a stadium full of crying babies. It was largely due to the "doubler effect" where sound waves are magnified and multiplied in space due to the lack of a central cavity for sound to nestle in without a constrained receiving zone. It's funny, but the old movie tagline that "no one hears you scream in space" isn't true at all, in fact, if you scream in space it would sound like a symphony of metallic screams in a hollow convention hall. An apt analogy is to imagine sound being the size of your hand and space being a glove that is the size of Vermont; you'd never be able to touch all the ends of the finger holes simultaneously. It was a pretty revolutionary discovery. There is a composer here in Austin named Gilbert Wall who is trying to get NASA to allow him to play a recording of a violin concerto he recorded and then broadcast it and re-record it in space in order to to give the original recording the "doubler effect." It would probably be the most expensive recording session ever.

Me: Indeed!

Part 2 of this interview will appear later this week.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

This, That, and the Other Thing

More than butter on toast, more
than all the muscle in my head,
more than a smoothie with skim milk, more
than the ladybugs in the refrigerator in a jar,
more than my flower collage, more than people
in the dark kissing just below the ear,
more than light and laughter, more than
the words I write on your back with my fingers,
more than my silver bike ride home at dusk,
more than the large metal lawn that is Brooklyn,
more than my weathered hands, more than a chlorinated pool,
more than laughing children under a sprinkler,
more than the East River, more than the smell
of sandalwood or amber, more than
huge mysterious fever memories, more than
this, that, and the other thing, more than you, more
than me, more than the faces of the ones I loved most.


Scoping the edge of autumn for a bit
of ridiculous sunny pleasure. The leaves,
though still green, are getting rumpled
and funked. People have more energy, it seems,
with new wardrobes sprung from boxes under
their beds. Scarves, light jackets, and wool hats
leave a trail of odoriferous mothballs.
Today I can smell the cool Atlantic Ocean in Brooklyn,
while the sun lights the streets in the same
ecstatic manner as summer, but now it is kinked with new
and improved dramatic angles. In other news:
Apples are ripening in orchards; crisp and bulbous
as all get out. In September, sleep is deeper,
delivered by a corps of relaxing cool breezes. Everything
is maxing out, as it tilts into right about now.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

John Ashbery Collects: Poet Among Things
Loretta Howard Gallery, 525 West 26th Street.
On view through November 2, 2013.
Lovingly curated by Adam Fitzgerald and Emily Skillings.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Can You Feel It?

In an effort to convince you,
I ran my hand over the back of your leopard
and you shivered a bit and said more.
When I felt the tip of the nuisance on your lap,
a pink umbrella opened under the yellow canopy.
Things got hazy as we wrestled.
Now the layers of grime are sparkles
like the blue glitter held with Elmer's glue
on a kid's art makes the outline of a pony pop
off the page. Well, you’re popping
through the living room with an instrument
that you can play with your middle finger,
like an organ, but rounder
and softer. Something really great
is just about to happen,
can you feel it?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Forever Stamp

There‘s always someone who cannot be cut
from the group. Then again, you reject
the two best things I want to draw people into:
You and the group.
If you are tired of them it occurs to me
to give you what they want.
One day, there will be
no more use of the word “instead.”
I do not want in some cases, to be left, or bothered.
I’ll carefully position myself behind you.
You need to wave your arms when you need me.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


To flub a jinx is to delay fate, a strategy
that leaves things hanging until the next
bulb flash pops from yonder, instills grace,
and turns me back again to the city. Think of these
pines with magnificent arterial bark,
and the rocks along the shore caked with green moss,
how lovely. The lake trumpets a blare of dusty blue,
from here, anyway. And look, the goose
feathers dot the tight surface of the water
while the water bugs skitter and feast
on errant insects that bob and perform their last flutters.
Yesterday, two dragonflies flew ecstatically connected
over the water and landed on the dock right next to me.
They looked awkward and embarrassed, their late summer urges
compelling them to clumsy mating. I think of the city
for a moment, its glare and trumpeting of all things
cosmopolitan and decaying. Its concrete structures
with tinted glass and stylish leather jackets, gas buses
and fragrant cabs, milky rain, and dodgy bits.
What calm I encountered here may have prepared me
for some other movement away, it swings me,
this magnificent jinx of delay.

Top 10 Books

1) Henri Michaux: Ecuador: A Travel Journal.

2) Rene Daumal: Pataphysical Essays.

3) Giorgio de Chirico: Hebdomeros.

4) Bob Holman: Sing This One Back to Me.

5) John Ashbery: A Worldly Country.

6) Jeni Olin: Blue Collar Holiday.

7) Paul Violi: Harmatan.

8) Bill Berkson: Recent Visitors.

9) Malcolm de Chazal: Sens-Plastique.

10) Exact Change Yearbook #1, 1995.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Liquid Smoke

It's so good to have a place to return to,
even if that place isn't there anymore.
The last great audio recoding of the sun
was a faint hiss followed by in-flight Wi-Fi.
The sun has such an all-encompassing thermal embrace,
like a overly jolly aunt sprayed down with Shalimar
and liquid smoke. Get too close and you get torched.
Sorry we're close. Still, we're open daily
until someone shuts us up. Make it stop.
I’d like an orange and a fistful of money
just for getting out of bed every morning.
Actually, what I really need is a friendly keen clerk
to help me find things I don't even know I need.
I'll play clerk for you. Someday I'll tell someone
I was in the service sector in another life.
I drew lines as a boy, and then I turned them into letters.
I'll always have you, I said.

Natural Resources

You'd think the sky would run out of water, right?
Are you comfortable in mud country? Tell me so.
The wonder that I feel is more like a party.
Others might suggest some weighted medicinal opiates
such as iced tea. Do you opiate?
Scarce natural resources of someone
thinking of you and turning the channel?
Are you already hidden on the 6 train too far
behind a newspaper? I'm sure I prefer to talk to you.
"Slow," you say. But I can already see my breath in September.
Walk to everything in the rain and you’ll become the rain.
Now for a film about my piano.
I play the piano and people are all like
"It's amazing, we really love her piano!"
But I digress. You pour the hot cream on my back?
Were you standing when you called to say
how great I was in my best moments?
Almost, or at least a lot like someone in
management delegating things and being right
and clever about a lot of things having to do
with business. I promise that I will do
you. I will write your name in chalk on the menu
council and the people will come into the store
all miraculous and pregnant. Your face in a wet spot
on a box "is for us to leave."
I do not want it to stop.

Pointing at the Sky

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Monsoonal Surge

One thing is certain: We'll always have our fear.
Fear of friends, of monsoonal surges, of regal clauses
in contracts, and, oh, I won't bore you with what
fears I have, I'm sure your arms are full of them.
Then it occurs to me: The night is fast approaching,
an almost liquid darkness seeps in over the highway
and invades the room I'm in until electric light
simmers on the bright orange pillow and a certain
solemn pall covers the evening enough to feel
snug and comforted by this encroachment. A neighbor
downstairs is watching a program with loud explosions,
the sounds rumble up under me, slashed by
the fierce hiss of cars heading home. They sound
so rhythmic and enchanting they could almost be the ocean,
if one were to find a pastoral frame to display it in.
What really startles me is the emptiness of this room,
how dumb and vacant the books on the shelves appear, the words
on their spines are mere designs. And the newspaper on the floor
bent away from the center crease, flapping like an
injured bird under the broad blowing of the window fan. See?

Friday, September 06, 2013

Smudged Superman

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Drunken Boat, 1994. Magic Alphabet. A blistering demo version. That's me on vocals.

Thanks to Alex Edwards for finding this in his archives. XO

Monday, September 02, 2013

I'm Glad I Know You

A new book of collaborative poems I wrote with Joannna Penn Cooper just came out from J. Hope Stein's lovely press Poetry Crush. Click on the link below to see the entire book (with illustrations by me). XO

I'm Glad I Know You