At lunch with Paul and Nikki, Nikki said "vaguely biblical is your specialty" and I was very proud and pleased. On the way to Josh and Kara's house, I stopped at a gas station that had recently been robbed, and flirted a little with the girl who was working there while children rolled around on the asphalt outside. When I got to their house, almost immediately I filled up their clawfoot bathtub and had a nice long soak, windows open, pink clouds drifting in a purple sky. Now I've crawled out a window and am typing on their roof. The sky is blue again today and I rejoice in the wind and the trees. I have found that I can only truly rejoice when I am by myself, but that it's much easier to rejoice while sitting or laying on someone else's couch or bed than it is to rejoice on my own.
May 28, 2017
At night, while I'm asleep, me and my dad and brother are delighted by a bouncing dog; I am expected to teach from an anti-Shia textbook; I touch yr arm; we learn the prayer of Ezekiel.
At yoga everyone sweats and Josh giggles and I grin. I have to take a break and I lay on my back and close my eyes and imagine the girl next to me stepping the wrong way and putting her foot in my mouth. The lavender spray bottle at the end is like Orthodox church and being told to leave the dark room quietly is like Good Friday and everyone crouching and rolling up their mats is like every Friday at the mosque.
At home, I do my own yoga and my own punches and my own sit-ups. I listen to Afrikan songs, Turkish songs, Amerikan, post-Amerikan songs. I talk on the phone for an hour every day and have much shorter conversations in person. I hand Max Rosen a jar of my teeth. My apartment is cool and breezy with the perfect light for a nap, but outside the sun is hot and bright and that's what I usually choose. o lay me in sunlight, o lay me in leaves
May 25, 2017
Last night at the bar I only drank water and it was easy and felt good. We talked again about Jesus and Satan and power and weakness and sigils and magick. Corey said he still wants to see a miracle and I said "I know you do." He reminded me that someone we know believes that she has experienced a miracle and I said "but you wanna see like somebody's leg grow back?" and he said "well, I'd prefer it to be your thumb," and we both laughed and I imagined little green garlic scapes poking out the side of my hand.
My apartment has been nice and quiet lately because no one lives beside me or below me. I would like it to always be this way. Birdsounds and rain and thunder and lightning, but no screaming neighbors or shitty music or yipping dogs. Big winds broke my tomato plants but I think they'll be okay. When I handed in my Arabic final I didn't even make eye contact with Lahmuddin and now I'll never see him again. What do I try to remember, what do I try to write down? Sitting for hours in Abdullah's garage? Us drawing arcs across a map? Corey parking the car, me yawning and scratching my head, a girl letting go of her boyfriend's hand to smile and wave at me? I open all the windows and I live in colors and I live in sounds.
May 20, 2017
Here I come with both swords drawn.
May 18, 2017
Birds sure do love the dawn.
May 9, 2017
I understand words and the organization of words as well as I understand anything, but I understand them in a way that is largely intuitive and requires more patience than effort on my part. A paragraph or essay that you force together like Legos might effectively convey information, but it will be more beautiful and more fun if you let it float and form itself like a cloud that you can follow. I often think of phrases as seeds, and sentences and paragraphs as flowers and bouquets LOL. In class the other day Madhi said that numbers are the only things that give him hope and I was delighted and kept writing bigger and bigger numbers on the board and he kept reading them outloud. I can imagine taking a class that makes me care about numbers by imbuing them with mystery and magic, something that I usually think of them as being entirely devoid of. Alchemy or sacred geometry or whatever. New Math. What else I can imagine is finding myself in a class about words or Jesus or colors or people or places or some other thing that I love to think about in ways that are magic and muddy and kind of dumb, and being forced to reduce them to scholarship or statistics and I am grateful that this has somehow not yet happened to me.
May 5, 2017
After eating lunch with Philip, I went outside and saw a man in a ballcap hug a man in a cowboy hat. Walking around, my city felt like a city. Later, walking around at night, this time with Paul, it felt even moreso. Perhaps not demonstrably cool, but cool enough. A good place to have a good life for a while. We went to Corey's house and him and Tyler and Nikki and Philip were upstairs recording vocals. We stood outside under their open window and I talked to Josh Ohmer about, uuhhhh, history and empire and identity and folk yoga. I talked to Tyler about poetry and place. As everyone else took turns on the mic a heaviness clouded my lightness and I laid down on a shelf and refused to sing, although I wanted to. But I found a way to feel fine by the end of the night.
Now, another gray day with unending rain. Might it ever be my work not to join someone who is sitting at a table by themself, but to sit down by myself at a separate table, normalizing their aloneness by accepting my own?
April 29, 2017
Today I smell like woodsmoke, Turkish cologne, beard oil, and probably urine.
April 27, 2017
we stand in dark kitchens, we sit in dark rooms, we hear two songs at once
April 22, 2017
A poem should be a reminder that even if the world isn't understandable or describable, it is, at least, feelable.
April 19, 2017
It was raining on easter morning, and Jesus got mud on his hands and his nice clean robe as he crawled out of his dark spiderhole and into a world that was wet and green and growing.
April 16, 2017
A few days before easter
A few blocks away
April 13, 2017
I have a body that I barely know what to do with. I take it for walks; I give it to the sun. I walked downtown and on the way I tried to see buildings that I had never seen before, and tried to see familiar buildings as if they were new. There are several brick cubes in the neighborhood that I am convinced are related to the one that I live in. At Coffee Ethic I read about Buddhism and the Quran and the Viet Nam War. The world is huge and hard to keep track of. Someone who I don't know but who I consider to be very intelligent was at the table next to mine for a while and I wanted to say hello but didn't. On the way home I moved a styrofoam box out of the street and remembered being in the car with Kubilay and his transposing of cartoon and carton and weave and view for German reasons.
Last night I went to Good Friday at Hope & Anchor with Corey and afterwards we had an important and encouraging revelation at Purple Burrito. We all went and heard Paul Simon songs and I danced with less self-consciousness than I expected but more than I wanted.
April 15, 2017
don't know if i want many
don't know if i want one
just know that i'm pale
and i want the sun
April 8, 2017
At night I felt the weight of the world and I wept. The morning brought good light and good air and the flags were flying on campus and I stood under the Syrian one for a few minutes. My anger and despair were somehow both shapeless and solid. I found Ryan and my anger faded and I hugged him with great affection out in front of his office, to the consternation of two christian pamphleteers who were standing in the shadows. I grinned at them and asked if their favorite beatitude was the one about being meek and they smiled in confusion and we walked off together, my hand on Ryan's shoulder. Tiny chunks of glass came loose from my feet and sank to the bottom of the pool, or maybe washed around in my wake like all the particles of plastic colloiding all the oceans.
April 7, 2017
Gray clouds made me hopeless most of the day. In the evening I met Corey at the bar and I ate chicken and he ate chips and we both drank beer and talked about our usual things. We went to my house and looked at our phones, then went to his house and he made me a strap for my watch. When Paul showed up we started playing music, but I was too tentative on drums. When Gwen and Kattee showed up Josh started making tortillas. We foraged wild garlic in the dark of the yard, then ate and drank and leaned on each other.
The next day I did my own things: talking on the phone, potting plants, making a strange dessert. In the evening I met Johnny and Aaron and Anthony at Mother's and we drank beer and tried to talk about heresy. At one point I had to prevent myself from mentioning Plato, and I was startled to notice that I am beginning to understand The History Of Thought. Afterwards, in an alley, I used my phone to invite seven people to my house. Paul and Nikki and Gwen and Kattee came and we laughed in the kitchen with wine and blueberry dessert and it felt good to have friends in my home.
On Sunday morning a text message made me happy. I mean I was feelin' great. Then at church I was quickly filled with a gulf of great angst. Seating arrangements seemed symbolic; either everything there was cheap and false or I was. Eventually I recovered. I ate lunch with Paul and Nikki and we looked at the sky and talked about trees. Back at home a phone call felt good. I dozed off while reading about buddhist monks and magicians, and when I woke up I was briefly on another couch on another continent. I spent some time walking through several apartments in Turkey, making sure they're still there. Then I put on shoes and a jacket and walked around my own neighborhood right here in Missouri. Everything was quiet. I learned that a building I have long admired was built in 1830. Now it's late at night. A cat is yowling in the street. I feel good here in my little kitchen but am worried that my bed will feel too big.
April 2, 2017
do u silence sadness every morning,
March 31, 2017
A yellow cat looking for a dry spot
March 29, 2017
While trying meditate this morning,
I unfocus to refocus:
March 28, 2017
I intended to cook broccoli and sweet potatoes and start writing my paper about wholeness and disfigurement, but instead I took a nap and ate chicken nuggets and went to the bar with Corey. We talked about, you know, law and love and guilt and shame and grace and forgiveness, and Corey said that christians were going to put me in jail. Every morning and most afternoons I pray like a buddhist, and some nights I pray like a muslim. How do christians pray? Laying in bed? Sitting in nice rows?
I had a very good week in which I talked and drove and danced and snuggled, and when we were laying in bed geese flew across our skylight and looking out the window of the plane an optical illusion made all the lights look purple but the longer I looked the realer it seemed. Some things that I'd hoped would be permanent felt like they would be.
March 22, 2017
Have I ever not prayed while smoking a cigarette? I can pray without smoking, and I do, a hundred times a day, but being aware that I'm doing something meaningless prompts me to seek something more meaningful. Me and Corey show up at people's homes and talk for hours about gnosticism and esoteric sufism and it's kinda dumb and probably annoying, but it's because we want to know things and we think we've learned a little bit. Now I'm at my own home, typing and drinking water. Tomorrow my parents and hopefully my brother will be in my home, and on Sunday I'll be in Shannon and Jacob and Miche's home, and on Wednesday I'll be in Hüseyin and KC's home. Do I need to cut my hair and trim my beard? Do I need to relearn how to dance? Should I just go to bed?
March 10, 2017
I went into a church with Ryan and we stood next to each other and sang and then we stood next to each other in a line. When we got to the front he went first and I stared intently at the back of his sweater and I could hear the pastor telling him from the dust you came, and to the dust you will return and I thought about how much I love him. When the pastor was saying it to me and wiping ashes on my forehead her eyes were wet and I thought how hard it must be to say that to so many people while looking at their eyes and touching their faces. When we sat back down I felt intensely happy and Ryan elbowed me and pointed at a mural and I made a joke about white Jesus and we both giggled for a while.
March 1, 2017
In spite of meaninglessness,
February 26, 2017
Every morning I sit on the couch drinking coffee, and my windowpane and the branches of the neighbor's tree work together to write Arabic letters across the sky. In Amerika I am usually tired and often slightly sick and I have trained my heart to be a clump of steel wool. I have two twitchy eyes and a bloody heel. Why, while driving down the road, did I imagine an old man sitting on a chair in his bedroom, sullenly masturbating before putting on his shoes, while his wife hums a song and opens windows in the kitchen?
On Sunday I didn't think I was going to take communion until at the end of the song Philip went up to take it and I decided I wanted to be like him and be with him, so I hopped out of my chair but someone's dad stood up between us, disrupting what I had intended. When I dipped the bread into the juice it dissolved out of my grip and I had to reach deeper in, my fingers swimming and soaking in Jesus's blood, and as I plucked the bread out and put it into my mouth the juice ran all down my hand and wrist and I walked back to my seat, licking my fingers and grinning wildly.
Should I start a separate blog that focuses exclusively on communion crisis?
February 21, 2017
are you pouring the good wine
are you pouring the good wine
are you pouring the good wine yet
February 12, 2017
Tim said he wanted to talk about How I've Been Doing Lately, but instead we mostly talked about knowledge and ethics and exegesis, which was fine and fun and made me feel good. When I got home I kept spilling dirt all over my house so I went for a long walk to pray for the neighborhood and to seek out construction sites and signs of spring. I saw two fat white men trying to fix a grill, two fat white men trying to fix two gigantic red trucks, and a black girl with a red bow in her hair twirling around on a hoverboard. I went to look at a mural, and was unreasonably angry that other people wanted to look at it too. I saw that a fraternity has occupied a house on my side of Grant Street and it felt hard not to believe that Springfield and Amerika and the world at large are all in rapid decline. On the edge of a burning parking lot, I was cheered up a little by giving a dollar to a drunk guy who was sloshing an Olde English around, thereby reminding myself that my affections and allegiances are somewhat strange but not entirely unpredictable.
February 11, 2017
for so many i am unchoppable wood,
February 8, 2017
I made some signs and went to the square and carried them in a circle with a few of my friends and a hundred strangers. While I was there I was very very happy. We were on the news and they asked me for some words but they wouldn't put my words in the paper.
On Sunday I took communion because Barry touched my shoulder. When him and Sherry went up front to talk I was alone in the back row but I didn't feel lonely I just felt confident and defiant, and when everyone else went up to pray for them I scooted one chair over to be by Barry's vest and I put my hand inside of it and I prayed for them from there.
Somewhere in between I got drunk and talked about God and I said that if God is everywhere and in everything then God is somewhere deep inside even the dumbest chemicals and the dumbest laws. It is always unclear whether I should actually believe myself, but I seem to know as much as anyone I've met.
February 6, 2017
Ryan has black goggles and I have blue. At the pool I jump in and grin around for a few seconds while I adjust my googles and I think about light and colors and skintones. While swimming I think about the way my hands and arms and legs are interacting with the water and I pay attention to my breathing for long enough to forget about it. Ryan can swim for longer than I can and I spend the last fifteen minutes in the hot tub trying to meditate lol. Any time I do any form of exercise I begin to understand the appeal of trying to have a good body instead of a good brain, and I get a little glimpse of the power and confidence that could come with having both.
January 27, 2017
I talked with Kubilay for a long time, and then with Gwen, and then with Gwen and Kattee, and then with Gwen and Kattee and Corey and Tyler. At night, walking in a slow drizzle, wearing my rabbit fur cap and carrying six bananas, I crossed paths with a man wearing a tunic and viking horns and we acknowledged each other with a solemn silent nod.
The next day I had banh mi with Paul and Nikki, coffee with Paul, tacos and margaritas with Paul and Corey and Garon and Lindsay and Soren and Anders, beer and champagne with Paul and Corey and Garon and Lindsay, more beer with Corey.
The next day I threw up at Corey's house, at my house, at church, and at Patton Alley, and at night I dreamed that I argued with one uncle about foreign policy and that I helped carry another uncle's casket.
Today I'm typing about books, thinking about theology and community, complacency and contentment. Teach us to use our days wisely, so that we can have wise hearts.
January 16, 2017
rain on my roof and rain on yours
January 15, 2017
wake up smelling like two kinds of fire
January 11, 2017
In darkness a light shines on me;
January 9, 2017
My house is cold and my car is full of gas and the roads are mud and ice. I want to sit quiet and alone in a mosque or forest or cathedral.
January 7, 2017
My boots do dhikr whether I want them to or not.
December 19, 2016
May my love be active and unsentimental and may I know when to wear black.
December 13, 2016
My body liked Turkey better.
December 12, 2016
I dreamed that I disassembled a cigarette,
December 11, 2016
Sitting at Coffee Ethic, thinking and reading and trying to write, I heard someone laugh and tried to think whose laugh it sounded like. I wandered through time and towns and into rooms and across continents looking at my friends and listening for their laughter, and I found all their delighted scrunched up faces but no sounds would come out of any of them.
December 6, 2016
I mostly don't mind walking everywhere, and in fact I often love it.
November 28, 2016
I hardly ever go to the movies but we went to the movies on Wednesday and on Thursday. I liked watching the movie on Wednesday but I felt it was immoral in that it condoned obedience to unjust laws simply because they are laws, and because it promoted the belief that there are two kinds of people. I feel strongly that there is either one kind of people or seven billion kinds of people, or maybe somewhere in between, but there are definitely not two kinds of people. I went to the movie with my family and the man sitting next to me went by himself. It's good to go to a movie by yourself! I have done it a few times and always loved it and I was feeling rather fond of the man next to me for seeing a movie alone on the night before Thanksgiving and I hoped he was having a good time and was assuming that he was. But after the movie when we all stood up to leave, he was crouched over digging around in the depths of his folded-up chair, and I imagined all the times my solitude has been turned into loneliness by something small and stupid and meaningless and I said a little prayer for him. Should I have said words to him instead?
The next night we saw a movie that I liked even more because it made me emotional about time and language and international/intergalactic communication. Can we use both hands at the same time? Can we go both ways at the same time? What is a sentence? What is a word? What is anything? Amen.
November 25, 2016
The day is gray and I've all walked through it. I have made the town tiny in my mind: a brick dropped in a forest. Bricks have been dropped in deserts and at the convergence of rivers and up against mountains, next to the ocean, in good soil and in rocky soil.
November 22, 2016
At breakfast I looked at sentences from the longest novel I have ever read and thought 'if all scripture is god-breathed and if everything is god-breathed, does that make everything scripture?'
November 17, 2016
This morning two men arrived at my apartment twenty minutes earlier than expected to install smoke detectors and do other things that I didn't understand. I love when my friends are in my home, but when strangers are there I am paranoid and panicky. I dressed as cowboy as I could, then hurried out the door and left them to do their work without combing my hair or brushing my teeth.
Walking to school I saw cats prowling around and sitting calmly in the middle of the street; black birds in the trees, some making sounds I had heard many times and some making sounds I had never.
For the last week I have had headaches and a rotting voice and a mustache full of snot, and it felt like I'd been repeatedly kicked in the face. Because of where I was born and the way I was born, it is unlikely that I will ever actually be kicked in the face, but some people have been and more people will be. I don't feel guilty about this but I do feel responsible. And I feel helpless and furious and self-righteous, and beneath all those things I feel a slow and solid and sorrowful love that I have found nowhere to put.
November 15, 2016
The moon looks in my window while we're on the phone. The moon slowly circles the world, watching us both, watching us all.
November 13, 2016
So now we tend different fires but the flames are the same.
November 12, 2016
One morning last week I tried to meditate and ended up facedown on the floor sobbing a vulgar prayer: fuck up the planes please fuck up the planes please fuck up the planes please fuck up the planes. Every horrible thing you can imagine happens every day. Every president in the world is a piece of shit. They're killing our prophets and our poets are dying.
November 11, 2016
No authority to bless you,
October 31, 2016
Out the morning window,
October 29, 2016
My boots don't hurt anymore. I still think every car is yr car.
October 22, 2016
new ways & true ways
October 17, 2016
The sky got good and then it got dark.
October 15, 2016
In my neighborhood, we sit on our front porches or in chairs in our front yards or lean on cars parked in the street. From a red roof, a yellow cat watches a brown groundhog cross a green lawn. Twice now - in this era, I mean - I have trudged through an assembly line ritual to avoid upsetting anyone, and many other times I have refused to do so, preferring to stay in my seat and sift through my own agony/smugness/humility/hermeneutics. I don't want anything that wants to hold me to hold me.
October 7, 2016
I pretended to know nothing about Mecca and Medina. I asked Rakan to adjust my keffiyeh and I made a friend. I laughed and laughed at the sight of goatfeet and rode home with Gwen. I shovelled grass and scattered seed with Ryan and refused to pray. I tied string around my neck. I saw Jeff at the bike shop, Jen and Rogan and Corey and Anna at the rum club. I tried to imagine my friend carrying a gun and I asked him for a picture. I imagined every neighborhood of my other friend's hometown reduced to blood and rubble and wept while I walked home in the rain, past flashing lights and cops and confusion. I was grateful for my jacket and I fingered my bruise in the mirror.
September 26, 2016
For behold, I am as immutable as oil, as a jar of cold-pressed coconut oil early in the fall.
September 21, 2016
Everywhere I go I show up bleedin'.
September 19, 2016
Amerikan light on amerikan lawns. Smoke from Uğur's cigarette came to me through the phone and I started to cough. I am doing a good job at having just as many real conversations as imaginary ones.
An hour later as I walked downtown I paid attention to flowers and old houses. I remembered how once I walked past the lake and into the forest. In my backpack I had a dead kitten wrapped in a kitchen towel, and in a bright place under the trees I spread leaves over its body and sang a small song.
September 15, 2016
All day long I read about relijun, all day long I send messages across the seas.
In the hallway in the afternoon I heard a student telling another student that I am Russian. When I got home I remembered that my bag is political and that in the decade since I bought it the world has regressed.
In the evening I walk around trying to keep everything quiet and everything open, hoping a poem or a prayer might appear on the sidewalk or rise from within me like a bubble. My neighborhood is a strange age, and it is both painted and unpainted. I do not yet delight in it; I am curious about every house, oblivious to every car, unsure of how the streets line up.
September 7, 2016
My feet do not yet know my own home when I get out of bed in the night, and when I woke up on Ben's couch my steps were even more cautious. I had been sleeping hard and had had a dream about someone I know who is in jail. In the dream I saw this person as a large pecan, still in its shell on a clean white kitchen counter, and God's huge hand reached carefully down and cradled the pecan in his palm and carried it away.
In the morning Ben and Jeshua and Alejandra made an excellent breakfast while I played with Legos with Charlize and Alana. We went to a church that had fascinating clothes and hair and accents and ideas about God. There were multiple people with things they wanted to tell everyone, and one of them said "Turn to the one aside ya and tell em yer a greedy sucker!" We did and we grinned. People sang songs they had written themselves, and no one else knew how to sing along.
August 29, 2016
A light in the dark can be welcoming or it can be a warning.
August 25, 2016
did yr face change did yr face change did yr face change did yr face change
August 21, 2016
I walked happily through the fog and the next morning I rode a bike through a deeper fog and sang very old songs. By early afternoon the fog had burned away but the sun was just as good. And I was doing my best and I was doing good but money and bureaucracy made me feel foolish and furious and helpless until Ryan came to comfort me. At night I nuzzled my head into a tree while urine sprayed against my shins.
August 16, 2016
Last night I dreamed that I stood up in church and said
August 19, 2016
"All is either all or it isn't."
August 12, 2016
We walked through the woods, three men, two baby boys, a little girl, and a dog, and when Lali handed me the stick she was using to clear spiderwebs from the path, I expected to feel like a wizard but I felt more like a water diviner. When we reached the river I took off my shoes and waded in; I thought my feet had grown tough but the rocks here are sharper. We walked a little ways upstream to a gravelbar where I sat and had no thoughts, or tried not to have thoughts of other rocks and other waters. Every summer I relearn the same song:
August 9, 2016
There is a type of flippant spirituality that I feel entitled to but which I seem to expect other people to propel me out of.
August 7, 2016
People who I like but never learned to love limp through my dreams. Giants move into town and we invite them over to try to make friends with them. Paul asks me to help him write a filmscript on a red toy typewriter, but the magnetic keys keep sliding off. Nikki looks at us skeptically and reminds us that our collection of toy horses is the real cause of our socioeconomic situation.
One morning I woke up and gave myself a close shave as an attempt at solidarity with someone who doesn't want it. On some mornings I wake up and do all my prayers and punches and pushups, and on some mornings I wake up and look at my phone and weep for the world. Today is Saturday and I woke up and made coffee and ate cinnamon rolls, and we all watched a rerun of the Olympics opening ceremony. Glowing green lines crawled across the screen while Elia did a dance and gleefully shouted "Let the virus spread!"
August 6, 2016
At mosques I took off my shoes and touched my forehead to the ground and knew I was a christian. At church I wear Paul's shoes and rub my thumb into my palm and know I am a sufi. At my friends' houses we wear our shoes inside like barbarians. I sleep on floors and beds and couches just like I always have.
August 1, 2016