June 30, 2016
"Monsters have nations??"
June 26, 2016
Fattah thinks I taught him to swim, and maybe I did, but I really did teach Hüseyin how to float, and if that's not a metaphor then I don't know what is.
June 24, 2016
June 22, 2016
don't fear the paper or the paint
June 21, 2016
On Erin's last morning in Turkey I looked at the light coming in through my curtains and I looked at Kubilay still sleeping and I didn't want to wake him up and I didn't want Erin to leave. When will I ever again live right next door to such a good baker, such a good writer, such a good friend? But I woke Kub up and we leaned on each other and then we took Erin to the airport.
In the afternoon I too got on an airplane to meet Mehmet and Zeynep in Istanbul and then we flew to Urfa. We spent the night on the roof, surrounded by cotton fields. We went to town to meet Uğur and me and him went back and forth between Urfa and Suruç, eating and smoking and sweating and complaining and marvelling at ancient magic.
June 19, 2016
I have heard and believed that the world is often a horrible place, but I have been lucky enough to have only known the lonely parts and the lovely parts.
June 13, 2016
fast in joyful secrecy, feast in joyful celebration
June 12, 2016
At the beach Merve and I both became Sincere, and when it started to rain our wine turned into coffee. I put everything into a bag and walked away. Then I took everything out of the bag and put in a watermelon and a large knife. On the way to Abdulfattah's house the knife poked through the plastic and everyone who saw me was alarmed. I sat on a bench in a park, waiting and feeling like an assassin. Passive assassin, active assassin, "Don't hug me! I have a knife!"
June 8, 2016
My days have been filling up nicely. A friend to put my arm around, a friend or four to talk to. Swim while you can, eat while you can. I still don't understand how the moon works or where it goes or where it comes from. Or maybe I shouldn't say that I don't understand it, but that I can't predict it. Anyway, tonight I went looking for the moon but it wasn't there. Is it stupider to seek out symbols everywhere, to imbue everything with greater meaning, or to call everything intangible imaginary?
June 6, 2016
empty yr pockets
none of that's you
June 3, 2016
train yr body train yr brain train yr face train yr tongue
May 18, 2016
These socks that I'm wearing are either Muzaffer's, Hüseyin's, or Hüseyin's dad's. Definitely not mine, Whitney's or Kubilay's.
May 12, 2016
"What if the river's good?" "Why else would anyone pray?"
May 7, 2016
One night they changed em. Climb up on their horses, get a good look at the faces on those statues and realize that they aint who you thought they were.
May 5, 2016
Blue sky, calm clouds, smoke moving through the trees in the cemetery.
On Saturday morning I had a nice long breakfast with Merve, then hurried off to swim with Mehmet and Abdulfattah. The afternoon was good and the evening was as lovely as it always is. We said many things and when we ran out of things to say we walked in silence for a while. I hummed the Saint Francis song while Fattah sang quietly in Arabic.
May 4, 2016
i knew i knew you i knew i knew you
April 25, 2016
The other night I stayed at Hüseyin and KC's, and in the middle of the night I woke up with a gasp from a dream about a pit of snakes - something I have never seen before in any dream. I said a prayer and went back to sleep somewhat concerned. The next day, eating lunch with Mehmet and Ramazan and Ali and another Hüseyin, Ramazan told how that night he felt he had finally conquered over a decade's worth of nightmares about snakes and black smoke and creatures crouching on his bed through a dream within a dream.
After lunch Mehmet and I joined hundreds of other men in the garden of the mosque where we knelt on plastic mats and woven rugs and cardboard boxes. While we were praying pollen was drifting all around us in the sunlight. A dove left its branch, circled around us, then fluttered back to its place among the leaves.
In the evening I ran along the sea, observing my breath and all of the blues of the sea and stones and sky and mountains. I thought of a person who I've tried to paint purple when the world has told me to paint him gray, and wondered what I've been doing wrong.
I've spent this morning on my balcony with a bloody nose, a copper-flavored mouth, two cups of coffee, the bible, and a book by Richard Rohr. May wisdom replace worry, may delight replace despair, may hope be found to be hiding everywhere.
April 23, 2016
Sitting with Hüseyin on his balcony, he became a bird and then a dog and then a bird again and then a snake and then a tree. I just drifted for a while, floating above the city like a fetus. Later, sitting alone on my bed, I imagined sitting across a table from Kubilay and God slowly lowering a blanket from heaven and draping it over our heads.
April 17, 2016
My face changed color again. I walked through the mountains and valleys and cities with Erin and Emily. All places on earth are equally old, but some have been inhabited longer and more beautifully than others. We asked the names of more dogs than humans. There was a little girl rocking and swaying on the side of the road as we left Pazar, a guy at the hotel who made us tea and drove to town to get hot chocolate for Emily and gave us a plate of Doritos, his kids, a woman on the mountain and her father with his bagpipes, Osman, a man at a construction site who took pity on our helpless confusion and drove us to the tea garden on top of a the hill, a waiter at the Ottoman house with an excellent mustache, some kids on the side of the road who the bus driver threw a bottle of Coke to.
Back in Antalya, I took a walk at night and found a glorious tree and a glowing field. Spring sounds are back. A barrier has been built that I do not approve of.
April 9, 2016
The evenings have grown long and lovely, and the mornings too, though I can't do what I want with those. If I'm alone in the evening I like to fill my house with sound or silence and let the darkness gently settle in, wait until the sun is down to turn on any lights. I can walk among traffic and asphalt and flowers and fruit trees, I can go to the sea and watch the waves, I can sit on my balcony and watch the bats. I can touch the boil on my neck.
When I'm on a bus or in a crowded place now, I always imagine someone blowing themselves up. It's a new thing to think about, but it's not a lot different from anything else you can't predict or control: what if while I'm laying on my bed the ceiling collapses? what if while we're spread out on this ledge under the sun someone comes and shoves us off and we tumble down the cliff? what if while I'm praying by the sea an unprecedented wave slaps me in the face? what if while we're meditating on the couch Hüseyin slaps me in the face? Everything that happens will happen today.
Yesterday I took two long bus rides with Dessa and had small conversations with two people I will probably never speak to again. Last weekend we had Easter and I loved it. It might have been our last holiday here; I don't want to look it up.
April 3, 2016
There are a thousand books I want to read, or rather there are a thousand books whose knowledge I want to hold, but I am tired all the time. I am okay at being a teacher, and better - I think, and hope - at being a friend, and that's where all my effort goes. It is good to delight in whoever you are with. There's nothing wrong with not reading in bed.
Last night Kubilay made us an excellent dinner, and when he left I was tired but still couldn't sleep, my mind just kept mulling the day's conversations. Today I wanted to continue my tradition of praying in mosques on Christian holidays, but couldn't find anyone to go with. I went and bought walnuts, then sat in my empty office looking out the window for a while, and then I typed the words may we someday see each other seeing you.
March 25, 2016
While we ate meat and mezes and drank wine I thought about the people who were there and about people who weren't there. As we left Hüseyin hooked his arm into mine and we leaned on each other all the way down the street. The next day I stayed in bed and had the longest, easiest phone conversation of my life.
March 20, 2016
I started running again and it feels good. For a while I was smoking fairly often and now when I run I can feel my lungs healing themselves, my legs remembering themselves, my whole body longing to be strong. While running I sometimes do a form of zikr; it's something I've done for years but only recently learned a name for. Align your mind with your body's rhythm and make them both a prayer.
March 15, 2016
Yesterday morning I met Merve for breakfast and we worked on our novels. Later I went for a walk with Erin and fell down in a field. Today on the bus on the way to meet Mehmet there was an old man with a growth on his nose unlike anything I have ever seen. At the tantuni place, Tantuni Abi was the first one all week to show me any affection and I was grateful for it. Me and Mehmet sat on the cliffs and stared out over the water and talked about books and politics and eschatology. A big bored Turkish family on our right looked at their phones and served each other tea and stroked each others hair; two guys on our left speaking Arabic sipped Coke and spat sunflower seeds, just like us; someone back in the park played guitar and sang Ahmet Kaya songs. The world seemed cool and this country seemed coolest and I wanted to live here for a hundred thousand years.
March 13, 2016
I have no hope or wisdom to dispense via text message. My voice on the phone cannot convey comfort. We talk about God while we're eating our lunch, we talk about God when we're angry, we talk about God when we're drunk.
In the afternoon I wrote Questioning your beliefs strengthens them on the board and I imagined Hüseyin raising his arms and saying "fire, fire, everywhere!" - mocking himself, mocking me - but I turned around to a room full of teenagers, utterly disinterested except for one, who said "yeah! you got what I mean!" and we both grinned.
In the evening I walked along the sea, my thoughts like kites, drifting but tethered.
March 7, 2016
Wings on my walls, St. Francis on my fridge. Who else cuts their apples on barbed wire fences? Who else walks into battle with their arms spread wide?
March 5, 2016
I dreamed about underwear and I dreamed about basketball. I dreamed we could hear the bombs and the planes coming towards us and when we ran out of the building we could see puffs of smoke all across the valley. We hid in a hole in the ground but then the dogs found us and then the soldiers found us. I took myself out of the dream. For a while I layed in the dark thinking about the world and the future of the world, and then I fell back asleep in my safe, comfortable bed.
In the morning I got on a bus with Erin and Serge and Kostya. I watched out the window and my mind floated slightly outside itself into the realm of poetry and prayer. We walked in ancient places that have become familiar - walls and paths and piles of rocks that were once homes and churches, tombs with no bodies and holes to let the souls out. We shared food and crossed three mountains. Some of us swam, some of us wrote our names. When I got home I asked Kubilay to help me find a wife, but his response was not encouraging.
It's Sunday. Rain and then tiny hail hitting the windows. A dream last night about a different side of war: Açelya crying at the meeting, "Everyone has to sign it, just everyone has to sign it. I'm sorry. Please." Maps in my mind, love and fear and fury in my heart. I'm drinking coffee and eating cranberries. There's a lot I ought to do.
February 21, 2016
Maybe my shoes will quiet down,
February 18, 2016
and all our horns are still entangled,
February 13, 2016
sanctify, sanctify, sanctify, sanctify.
February 4, 2016
Lately all my days are unbelievably long. Not unbearably so, but unbelievably. On Monday night at the movie, sitting between Uğur and Muzaffer, I thought Time is God's blood. That didn't seem right and I tried to make a sentence about how time is an optical illusion that only God knows how not to see, but that wasn't quite right either. We watched the snow and the river and the light in the trees and we watched people kill each other. The next day Kubilay came to my barbecue and then Merve came and we were all alone together. A few hours later, at the bar, we all drank from the same cup.
February 3, 2016
Keep your eyes and ears and mind wide open
January 28, 2016
let the setting sun shine through the honey,
January 27, 2016
All day: Hüseyin. All night: Kubilay. In the morning: Muzaffer, mountains, meat, snow. In the afternoon I was handed a small tool and I did some work. We pruned, we gathered, we burned piles of brush. In the evening I made friends with a small child, my youngest Turkish friend, and at a Said Nursi meeting Muzaffer introduced me by saying "This is my American friend. He is a Christian, he has read the Qur'an, and his best friend is an atheist." I giggled because I wasn't sure he had intended me to understand, and though I suppose that those are all things about me worth knowing, I might dispute two of them. On Sunday we shot guns and got haircuts. On Monday Muzaffer needed to assert his family's right to their ancestral lands and we went to a government building full of piles of papers and documents in blue binders, a horrible hub of polite, patronizing bureaucracy, and while we waited my hand found a lighter in one of my pockets and I imagined burning the whole place to the ground.
January 25, 2016
light falls and falls and falls and falls
January 14, 2016
A good morning: rain on the window, roots in the cemetery, green trees swaying in the gray sky; but, then, of course, a jackhammer. When it stopped though, and the sound of rain and silence finally found us, how welcome was that sound! And how full and fitting! For soon, through the window, we observed a funeral, and silently, separately, added our own illiterate prayers to the ones of those assembled around the grave below.
January 4, 2016
Repetition at the boxing gym,
December 29, 2015
six pairs of slippers, seven bottles of wine,
December 26, 2015
I talk to myself in the mirror on the elevator, I talk to myself on the bus. I talk to my friends in the food court, in our offices, on sidewalks, on their balconies and couches, around our tables, in my bed. When you are gone I will shave my face clean, and before I leave too I will shave my head as bald as I am able.
December 19, 2015
"No, come on, come in! Everything's bullshit! Anyone can pray wherever they want!"
December 15, 2015
Summon a scene, a sentence, a feeling, and carry it into different rooms and parts of town; imagine it appearing on the backs of friends and students and strangers, written in the sky or on the sidewalk.
December 12, 2015
When some people like me it makes me happy, but when other people like me I don't even care. Consider the situations in which power belongs to the person who is sitting as opposed to the situations in which it belongs to the person who is standing. Why should humans hide in holes, slowly learning not to need each other?
December 11, 2015
reacquainting myself with silence and shaking
December 6, 2015
At the beginning of every day I pray
November 16, 2015
How many mornings in a row now have I woken up and wept for the world before even getting out of bed? My own acquaintance with sorrow and suffering is shallow and incidental. I can usually slough it off by spending a few minutes with a friend. The last time I showed up at Kubilay's house, he answered the door sleepy and wearing my clothes. At Hüseyin's I inevitably end up wearing his. Once I confusedly pulled someone else's ID card out of my wallet and Merve said "a mutual life!" And I guess that's what I'm going for. I guess that's what I've kind of got.
November 15, 2015
Objects and absences piling up forever.
November 4, 2015
another night on the cliffs above the sea, where
October 29, 2015
How many nights of my life have I spent walking alone through dark neighborhoods, and who would I be without those walks, and how would I have ever learned to see or hear or think or write or pray?
October 19, 2015
Days acquire shapes, they're all the same: I yell or don't, I talk or don't, I laugh or don't, I run or don't, I cook or don't, and then I try to sleep. After a beer and cheesepuffs with Hüseyin and KC, I smashed onto a crowded bus and made enough eye contact with strangers and knew just enough Turkish to feel like we were all in this stupid situation together, all amused about the physical contact and people's bad manners and ready to get home. After two stops two guys started getting angry at each other, yelling about a girl and waving their hands around. Some people chuckled and some people seemed scared. I got shoved right up behind one of the angry guys, the smaller less attractive one who I liked better. Or I mean I didn't like him, he was being dumb and had a dumb haircut, but the bigger guy seemed used to getting what he wanted. I put my hands on my guy's shoulders and silently prayed for peace for him and where he was going and where he was coming from. He was holding flowers wrapped in a paper cone. Someone pushed me in between them, and it felt like a place someone should be so I just stood there, their arms reaching around me and still yelling, trying to get at each other, everyone else grabbing at them, me acting bored, staring at their reflections in the window and praying. Lack of language was a bubble, as it always is, and this time it made me into a physical barrier. In Amerika I would have stayed away from them or I would have said something that made the situation worse. In Amerika someone would have had a gun. I imagined guns and bombs and knives and felt weary of the world. A cop appeared and pulled my guy to the front of the bus where they argued until I got off. I went home, changed clothes, and went out into the street and ran until I felt strong and sullen, calm but not content, wobbly but not weak.
October 13, 2015
In filling up your loneliness, I erase my own.
October 12, 2015
My lemons aren't sprouting. No one's sleeping under my moon.
October 6, 2015
God floats through our dreams and out of our mouths and hovers over the waters.
October 3, 2015
Outside of the bus were green mountains and gray fog and inside the bus were orange seats and many people, two of whom I knew. I looked around at everything and everyone. The next morning while it was still dark, laying in bed listening to roosters, I imagined God telling me to kill Hüseyin and me refusing. As the sun was coming up, me and Hüseyin and his dad washed and went to pray. We thought about what each of us was thinking, but I only know what I was thinking, and I barely know that. Later we got in the car and went to his grandparents' house to get a goat. They tied it up and put it in the hatchback, and me and Hüseyin sat in the backseat holding its horns. We talked to it and looked into its eyes and I moved my thumb on its nose and forehead in the same way I might move my thumb on Hüseyin's arm or back or shoulder, or the arm or back or shoulder of anyone who was scared or sad or drunk. Soon a man came with a knife and he used it. It was not a clean cut.
The next day the four of us wandered the town where Hüseyin and his sister went to high school. We drove through more green hills and mountains. The light was good, I was in the front seat, I was happy. Memories of other mountains found me and the whole world melted together in my mind. I don't know where we were, but I know who I was with.
September 27, 2015
Unlock yr doors, unwave yr flags.
September 9, 2015
I built it, I baked it, I liked it, it crumbled.
September 8, 2015
Wisdom is a planet that we orbit but can't land on.
September 6, 2015
I've got some rooms where I hide from the heat,
August 30, 2015
When I pray while floating on my back in the sea, I can sometimes stop existing for several minutes at a time. When I pray alone in my room, my hands often turn to paint. When someone else prays for me, my hands slowly swell into massive balloons that fill the entire room. I don't remember what happens when I pray for someone else because I haven't done it in a long time. The most recent time that I remember doing that there was this conversation: "Is that how priests pray?" "I don't know any priests." And then prolonged and baffled eye contact.
August 28, 2015
What was immediate: bizarre delays, miscommunication and malfunctioning communication systems, oppressive heat.
What followed quickly after and mattered more: many good people.
August 19, 2015
In any conversation, it's very rare for any person to be having the conversation they actually want to be having. And yet, it's equally rare for any person to be the wrong person to give some of your time to.
August 15, 2015
It's a rare occurrence, but falling asleep sober and alone on someone else's couch or in someone else's bed is when I feel I understand Jesus's life the best.
August 12, 2015
I can find friends, I can find food, I can find drink, it's no trouble. I can find ducks and horses and cats and dogs and water and trees and fields and flowers. But I cannot find a place to paint, and I can barely find a place to read. Still, I try, and I read Rilke and The Masnavi and The Blue Cliff Record. Isaac sits down and turns my book over to see the title, and we talk for a minute about Catholic mystics. Walking on the sidewalk, going back to my bike, I see people in the way that my country and culture taught me to see them, and I sort them into separate groups based on skin and clothes and choice of beverage. Here, back where I was born, I can at least see myself doing this, and be startled and saddened by how intuitive it is. When I get on my bike and ride it through this town that I lived in for so long, I see some change but mostly stasis.
August 4, 2015
I'm wearing a hat. I'm hiding out in Amerika.
July 31, 2015
Well, where haven't I said your name, or wanted to?
July 23, 2015
So many rooms to be alone and unalone in. A language you know and a language you don't; the light through the windows, the reassuring smell of someone else's cigarette. Each room is a poem, and being present in a room can cause it to become a prayer.
July 12, 2015
the king in the tree went away
July 11, 2015
For ten months I stood with Whitney and Erin at the bus stop every morning, and a few minutes later Ramazan would sit down beside me; we said normal things to each other and nothing to each other and funny things to each other and I saw the same things out the window every day. The year before that I always sat behind Muzaffer on the bus, and I imagined us both riding the same route for a decade and watching his bald spot grow. All of this was a comfort to me. Now I ride a different bus and I don't understand what time it comes and I cling to the yellow handrail hanging from the ceiling, my skinny arms on display for all to see, imagining it breaking, imagining myself shitting my pants, people pushing, people falling over, all of us breathing.
July 9, 2015
walk thru the night walk thru the night
July 8, 2015
I should learn how to wait when my heart and mouth and mind all turn to shards of stone;
July 2, 2015
Always the wrong song except when I'm alone.
June 15, 2015
Trust is only trust if it's unwarranted.
June 9, 2015
When it got dark Kubilay and I found our knives and flashlights and went to the water. We assembled our fishing pole and both cast a few times, then planted the pole in the ground, wrapped ourselves in a blanket, and settled in to talk about all our normal things: the future, the past, God, the moon, Russian girls. It was a little cold but I was content and we both fell asleep for a while until I imagined someone standing over us and smashing my face with a cinderblock.
June 8, 2015
six strong arms
May 25, 2015
When I went to meet KC and Huseyin for breakfast, we saw KC's neighbor lounging on her patio reading Darwin's Origin of Species. When I went to meet them for supper eight and a half hours later, she was still in the same place, doing the same thing. In between, Huseyin and I rode bikes, survived big dogs and small rivers, drank tea, and discussed trees and horses.
Finding myself in a crowd of people carrying flags, I carried a can of cilantro and when I reached the corner I handed it to a friend.
May 24, 2015
Last weekend I went to church in Turkey for the first time. It was an Orthodox church - Russian, or Greek, or both, I didn't understand - and it felt more like I think a first century church must have than anything else I've experienced. Small, sacred, communal; pictures of brave dead friends. But Jesus, to me, does not provoke solemnity.
Before we went in Sergey announced that I wouldn't be able to take communion without first getting the priest's approval, so when it came close to time I went outside and sat on the ancient stone street. I could hear the protestant church next door singing cringey hymns in English, but I mostly paid attention to a cat that crept around a corner and a vine that had climbed over a wall, and wondered what kinds of barriers they had erected between themselves and God.
May 23, 2015
In the morning I'm either happy and sleepy or happy and wide awake. I make eggs and sing songs about them; I stick my head out the window to look at my plants, and my eyes follow fruit trees until I'm looking at mountains. I rejoice in all things. By the time I get to the bus stop I've become quiet. I read Nietzsche or whatever and look out the window and imagine my ancestors and my friends' ancestors: awake in the hard day, asleep or awake in the hard or soft night. Burning pastures, building rock walls; knowing different plains and different valleys and different colors of dirt. And now, here we are, in this building, on this bus, baked into our bodies, our brains broken in predictable patterns.
May 14, 2015
You crawled and headbutted like a grumpy affectionate sleepy old dog,
May 12, 2015
Then I sat under a fig tree for a few hours hoping some rabbi or dervish might find me.
May 7, 2015
I found a way that was good and dark, an alley leading to the moon.
May 4, 2015
Humans live in sound and we create sounds and we create things that create sounds. On Thursday night I went to the symphony with Erin and Sergey and Emily and Fattah and Zeynep. I've forgotten the name of every instrument, and it didn't occur to me try to remember what they're called until the performance was almost over. I was watching the family in front of us and the faces of the singers and musicians; I was thinking about scenes from Mikhail Bulgakov and Orhan Pamuk; I was thinking about Whitney as a little girl, jumping around the house to 'O Fortuna'; I was having fun with my own eyes and eyebrows. The next day I went to the beach, and afterwards, while Fattah went to Friday prayers, I sat in a park thinking about my skin and about metaphors for God. Two benches away from me was a teenage girl dressed in black who I at first thought was weeping, but who was actually just hunched over her cellphone. I had a small conversation in Turkish with a group of teenage boys. The next day I went to the beach again. Huseyin and I pshychoanalyzed each other's rockpiles. Kubilay called me and we interpreted sounds. It is good to try to know and to be somewhat known.
May 3, 2015
My name is not unlike your name.
April 27, 2015
I'm learning the limits of what I'm capable of conjuring;
April 24, 2015
The beach is beginning to be full of fat, pale, nearly naked people. It's actually not full at all yet, but they're there now and they used to not be. This city and country and language are not my own and I still have almost no knowledge of them, but I'm also not a tourist or a rootless unhooked traveller, and I have always felt most like myself when I seem to be sitting squarely in the middle of two dichotomies.
April 23, 2015
way back when I thought I knew ya
April 21, 2015
When I'm half asleep and I have no fears I pray the strangest things.
April 16, 2015
Yesterday I got on a bus with Erin and Sergey and Abdulfattah. We went inside an ancient hospital and on top of some other ancient things. Sergey ran into the sea and I followed: my first swim of the season. I was never angry all day long. Today, on the way home, I felt a sort of helpless affectionate fury and I did a magic trick with my seatbelt to everyone's great alarm. I got out of the car and said "HAVE A NICE LIFE EVERYBODY," and I meant it. I do hope they have a nice life. When I got home I planted my kidnapped plants. Then I went to the beach and sat there moving my hands under the rocks, calling everything a magic trick, feeling insane and calm and confident. Now I'm typing. I'm wearing my newest shirt and everyone likes it. I'm boiling an egg. I'm typing and I'm talking. I can mostly control my fingers and I can kind of control my mind.
April 13, 2015
Yr roots might be shallow but yr tips are green.
April 11, 2015
Jesus loved to feed people and confuse them.
April 10, 2015
I woke up on Huseyin's couch and opened the curtains so I could see the
trees and the sky and the cemetery. For a while I layed there remembering other recent Saturdays: waking up and making breakfast and armwrestling with Kubilay, walking with Erin and Sergey until we were surrounded by the sound of rushing water and wind in tall grass. Eventually I got dressed and got on a bus, bought poğaça from the guy on the corner by my house and helped him brace his cart when the wind tried to take it. When I got home I made coffee and did laundry, looked at plants with Erin and drank a beer with Kubilay. In the evening I thought about Mary Magdalene and Salome and John and Peter and everybody, hiding in their houses, two friends dead, wanting to be dead themselves, angry and ashamed and afraid and swallowed up in sorrow, sitting hopeless in the dark.
April 4, 2015
God sang a song called "It's the Law: You'll Be Lonely".
I have no counsel here, I have no counsel anywhere.
I often feel strong and surly, a giant walking slowly across a vast
plain towards a city in the mountains. But when I remember the way time
works, the way the dung beetle rolls and rolls the dying earth, I become
feeble and afraid: a painting of an old man at a table holding an empty
March 19, 2015
In the absence of revelation, practice cultivation.
Yr life gets filled up with whatever you fill yr days with. Lots of
food, a few faces.
March 10, 2015
Knowledge of knowledge isn't necessarily knowledge.
Endlessly learning and unlearning how to be alone and how not to be.
March 3, 2015
My hands left flourprints all over my friends' shoulders. I tossed a
bag of lemons under a bush for safe-keeping. I poured hot water and
then cold. I'm getting what I wanted.
March 1, 2015
Druid days are here again.
February 24, 2015
Peeling an orange is a prayer and possibly a sacrament.
nothing's not a muscle
February 10, 2015
Because I wasn't talking, I noticed that all three of us were standing
on one foot.
February 9, 2015
Sitting at the beach the other day, crunching peanuts and drinking kefir
with Kubilay, I saw two dudes twice our age sharing a bottle of beer and
a bag of chips, and I said "those guys are the same as us" and he
scoffed and I wondered if thirty years from now the people who know me
will have known me for a long time or only as an old man.
This morning I wrote a stupid poem about the sun and then sprawled on
the beach with my arm over my face, listening to the waves and
vacillating wildly between contentment and despondency. When I sat up I
saw a girl in tights and an army jacket a hundred yards away laying in
the exact same position, and I knew that we, too, were the same. I
thought about women and I thought about men. I found a big piece of
rust and put it in my back pocket and walked home.
It's true that in the past I have invented jokes about receiving text
messages from God, but it's also true that on my first night in
Casablanca, when I was laying in bed reading Miroslav Volf and
considering the semantics and semiotics of trying to name or describe
God, my phone rattled and I looked at it and it said "I AM welcomes
you to Morocco!"
The next day I sat at a cafe with Abdul, worrying and drinking tea and
smoking cigarettes, and an hour later some of my worst fears were
In Portugal and Morocco I saw many new sights and had few new thoughts.
January 31, 2015
Two archers in two rowboats, both with bad aim.
I dreamed I was helping my friends memorize Wallace Stevens' poem about
a jar. Now I am awake, and to make this happen I must first memorize it
myself. I wish I had a giant book of his to learn and live in. Him and
Emily Dickinson. I am the winter wind. I want to ride horses, I want
to ride motorcycles.
January 9, 2015
I knock on the pillars so you'll notice they're hollow.
We know nothing of the world except a few faces.
On the first morning of 2015 I woke up feeling finer than I'd expected
to. I baked bread and made myself coffee and a giant frittata, tried to
permanently store some scenes I'd been embarrassed to ask for pictures
of. On the second morning of 2015 I woke up on Kubilay's couch with sun
shining hard in my face and roosters crowing in the graveyard. We ate
bananas in the car and were minorly annoyed with each other. Now, on
the third morning of 2015, I am eating almonds, baking more bread, and
cultivating calm affection for people on four continents.
My "eyes" are glass orbs that my brain tries to see the world through.
Today they won't work. I stared at the magnolia tree for at least three
minutes before I noticed the doves among the leaves. I walked to the
beach to watch the rain come in over the sea, but my eyes wanted
nothing, so I closed them and concentrated on sounds. When I am finally
blind, will you put yr arm around me and let me touch yr face sometimes?
December 27, 2014
On the bus in the morning, looking at mountains, looking at light, I
suddenly remembered a political conversation - or really a parody of a
conversation - from several years ago, and I became incensed. The bus
went up the hill and past the Termessos / Korkuteli turn off and into
the trees, and I calmed down. Nine hours later, putting on my winter
coat for the first time this year, I thought oh yeah: I could just
December 22, 2014
Young men cast as hard as they can, old men plant their poles in the
December 6, 2014
Imitation of intimacy. I hold everyone steady and at arm's length.
November 28, 2014
God is not a building, God is not a book.
November 22, 2014
In cars and hallways I feel boring and calm and affectionate. At home I
boil potatoes and roast red peppers and wash all the dishes except the
ones I use every morning. I imagine a feeling, examine it for a minute,
and put it away.
November 19, 2014
Mock or ignore anything that encourages you to be afraid of any other
November 18, 2014
The people walking in darkness have obscured a great light.
November 10, 2014
Windy nights now. More seagulls, fewer airplanes.
In the afternoon I rode my bike through the new neighborhoods on the
edge of town and then on to gravel roads and past horse barns and marble
pits. Out towards the mountains, following an old man on a tractor for
a while, I thought about Hüseyin and both of my grampas. After
sitting on an aqueduct and looking and listening and not having
thoughts, I turned around. On the way back there was a pile of bricks
that I was very interested in, but then I saw and smelled some kind of
carcass and kept on going.
November 8, 2014
I dreamed I visited the church my family went to when I was in high
school. No one said anything to me but I didn't really want them to. To
my confusion and delight it had somehow become one of the only places in
town where black people and white people went to church together. At
the end everyone stood up to pray but I kept sitting. A little boy
behind me whispered to his dad about it and his dad whispered back "Some
people sit and some people stand. It doesn't matter to God. And some
people always pray about God's eyebrows, but that doesn't matter to him
Later I dreamed about riding around in Ryan's truck and eating bbq with
November 5, 2014
Cities are spreading out, I'm staying the same.
October 31, 2014
How good to watch the waves alone at night, to see a higher tide than
you have ever known. How good to walk without a camera through
unfamiliar neighborhoods. How good to find that joy appears almost
every time you ask for it.
October 25, 2014
At school my silence caused more silence. In the midst of one silence,
I looked around at a room full of students and smirked and said "You're
not going to win. I'm going to win." Only two people smiled and one of
them laughed. After school, I put on another jacket and went to the
beach. It was gray and windy and no one was there. I looked at the
water and the mountains and let my thoughts expand and dissipate. A
colossus appeared, half in the sea, half in the clouds. He turned his
head to look towards the east and I stopped breathing, imagining him
reaching out his hands or striding onto land. My belief bordered on
terror and it was a relief to finally have something to be in awe of. I
went home and burned almonds.
October 22, 2014
seeking and seeding comfort and confusion
October 18, 2014
When I stepped into the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror, I
remembered my neighbor Ron: talking to him in the driveway, going with
him to Braum's and Price Cutter and Great Wall Buffet, being annoyed by
the sound of his van and his stomping and wheezing up the stairs, his
mom on my porch telling me he had died. When I am fat and have more
stains on my shirts and have succumbed entirely to my hobbies and my
habits, will I live alone in a huge old house, hoping every day for the
brief company of my unfriendly neighbors?
October 13, 2014
The sidewalk is a snake whose back I tread lightly on.
October 8, 2014
Days are getting shorter and the clarinet player is getting better.
Light falls on buildings, light falls on plants. This morning I went to
Green Owl to trade some books, and when I got there Kemal and Primrose
insisted that I have a glass of wine and a strange conversation with
them. Afterwards I bought another pipe from Bayram and was pleased with
myself for conducting the whole transaction in tentative Turkish. In
the afternoon I went to the beach and fell asleep in the sun for the
first time in months. When I woke up I was confused and everything felt
urgent and symbolic. I remembered a seating arrangement that felt like
a diagram. I looked at the sea and decided that it represented both
permanence and impermanence. I stood up and jumped in and swam out
underwater as far as I could. When I came up I rode the waves with one
eye open and one eye shut, trying to see the mountains that were blocked
by the sun. I spluttered and spun and added my own water to all the
October 7, 2014
Washing dishes next to an open window as the sun goes down, I think
about houses I've lived in, many with my family, a few with my friends,
and many alone.
October 3, 2014
One of the new guys downstairs likes to slam through the gate and rev
his scooter right up next to the front door; another neighbor always
comes home singing, loud and strong and sonorous; someone in the
building next door has started learning to play the clarinet and is
currently very bad at it. My body is becoming reacquainted with being
on a bike. My brain is becoming reacquainted with how good it is to
turn everything off and sit in the dark, observing the sources of sounds
and lights and shadows.
October 1, 2014
call off yr destroyers
September 25, 2014
Smoking cigarettes on God's front porch, daring each other to
September 22, 2014
September 19, 2014
Time is a pregnant woman eighteen feet tall, walking west,
September 10, 2014
I received some handshake advice and instantly resented everyone who has
spent the last twenty years not giving me handshake advice.
September 8, 2014
The simpler something is, the more symbolic it is capable of
September 6, 2014
i'm old but everyone thinks that i'm young.
September 3, 2014
They dragged away my favorite truck, they fixed my favorite hole.
August 31, 2014
Red is the weakest plastic, purple's the strongest paint.
I pay attention to plants but what I know carries no words with it. No
names, anyway: This tree is changing. And this tree is changing too.
Now this bush has flowers. Now THIS bush has flowers and THAT bush
DOESN'T. But I know the name of the bougainvillea, and I know that now
it's dying for the second time this summer. The week before I left its
flowers were falling all over the sidewalks or browning on the branches,
and when I got back they were all alive again, a second peak. And I
know the magnolia tree, and how Colleen waited for two whole years and
then there they were: flowers bigger than anyone's face. Those are
both city plants; they came here from other places, like me, but they've
been here longer. The things that grow in the mountains are more
familiar and yet more unnameable and I haven't met them in
August 28, 2014
I had a job but didn't do it. I had less to say than I thought I did. I
tore every book in two. I want to be associated with many individual
people but not with any group of people.
August 18, 2014
I wanna type a sentence towards you.
August 15, 2014
four bags of dirt took two paths home
August 13, 2014
If I live here forever, which is unlikely, I'll eventually start to get
a little chubby and I'll slowly become one of those brown guys with gray
beards who swims laps and lays on a towel on the rocks in a speedo all
day. For now I'm skinny and 31 and I usually put my towel on a chair
cuz I need to be able to sit up so I can read. This morning while I was
reading my Jesse James book two short-haired French girls approached the
empty chairs next to me. They asked me a question in French and I said
"okay" and moved my hand in a way that meant they could sit in the
chairs. They did, and I tried to think if I know how to say anything in
French. A popular Belgian song, a popular Algerian song, an American
song that was popular in both the 70s and the early 2000s, a French song
that is good but was never popular. Nothing useful. We ignored each
other and I continued reading about Jesse James.
My eyes are ready to stare at the sea and I am ready to be in my own
house, where the windows are open and the quiet is something I
cultivate. I'd rather know the names of mountains than the names of
July 30, 2014
sweatblind and bleedin' and whistlin' a song
July 22, 2014
I found yr buried bible when I couldn't find my own.
I imagined God as a polar bear chewing a piece of paper with his name
written on it.
July 15, 2014
Puppies are babies but they never learn to talk.
Shall I tell about my days:
I was in Brooklyn with Daniel and Matt and Laura and John and Alyson and
Max and Dakotah.
I flew to Missouri. Ryan picked me up at the airport and I hugged him
as hard as I could. Then I got on a bike and found Paul and Corey and
I ate lunch with Phil Bridges and then sat at Phil Dickey's
Me and Corey went to Wayne's to drop off a whiskey still and pick up
some trout. We waited for the door to open and lowered our voices when
we saw Cindy Woolf sleeping on the neighbor's porchswing.
In the morning I sit around with the dogs. In the afternoon I eat more
lunches with more people, accomplish small tasks, ride my bike, and read
in the hammock while squirrels and blue jays rattle the trees above me.
In the evenings I run around the yard with Elia or drink gin with Corey.
At night I find someone to sit with and wait for something pleasantly
embarrassing to get said.
July 3, 2014
A bad bridge is better than no bridge.
June 12, 2014
if you feel like a foreigner, why not become one
haircut season, lightning season, protest season
Wake up to a brick-red stripe smeared across yr sight, an interesting
illusion that becomes more alarming when wind and light and water can't
wipe it away.
May 30, 2014
faces become other faces, names become other names,
May 28, 2014
This is not a loud city but I know could never live anywhere louder. I
turn off the lights and sit in the dark and call it my home. One night
I imagined each of my friends getting old and dying, their houses empty,
their spouses lonely, their grandchildren slowly forgetting them.
Another night I considered my ability to draw a diagram of the various
sects of the Abrahamic religions. Last night I thought about
paintwheels and pixels the size of windows. Once I'm asleep, I can't
control what thoughts arrive, but to some extent I can steer them, and
for years I've been able to end them at will.
May 25, 2014
Now a German lives where I used to live. Every morning he puts a
different flower on the table on his patio and sits out there smoking
cigarettes. Sometimes his daughter or something is out there too,
looking bored and wearing shorts and being blonde.
May 10, 2014
My feet touched a flag, my feet touched a map.
May 7, 2014
When it stopped raining I went for a walk. All but one of the mountains
had dissolved in the fog so I went the other way. I sat on the ledge at
a different beach than usual and watched people fly kites. Little girls
practiced dance moves. Leaves collected in a pile against my leg.
People crowded around me with their bikes and I imagined them falling
down the stairs and having to help them. I resolved to study Turkish
pronouns. On the way home I sang the doxology and saw an Iranian
license plate. The sun showed up. I got hot and took off one of my
shirts and watched the mountains reappear.
April 27, 2014
love people, laugh at power
April 25, 2014
At night I had a small nightmare about a haircut in a stripmall. There
was a more alarming dream before it, but the haircut one was what woke
me up. In the afternoon I went to the barbershop in my old neighborhood
and everything went fine. After that I found Kayla at the beach and had
my first swim of the season.
April 23, 2014
Reach out yr paw to bless bloody thumbs and broken antlers.
April 20, 2014
I love sun I love shadows I love silence I love sound.
April 19, 2014
A fisherman set up his poles right in front of me and I watched him
adjust his lines and eat oranges and examine rocks and examine his hands
and not catch anything. I've only ever seen people catch anything on
the bridge. Three small British sisters arrived to hop around and shove
each other and shriek in English. I finished a few chapters and put my
book down and fell asleep on the stones while the sun uncovered and
admired my hairy belly. When I woke up I looked at what time it was and
thought about everyone in Missouri getting out of bed, eating breakfast,
talking to babies, healing their hangovers, going to church. I tried to
think about Palm Sunday but couldn't. On most evenings it's easy to
imagine Jesus walking around my neighborhood or anyone's neighborhood,
calm or delighted or lonely when he's by himself, unworried and defiant
and confusing and compassionate when he's with his friends, full of
thoughts and feelings. But in the afternoon all I can imagine is snacks
and the sun and myself. I bought three bags of gummi bears and called
that a holiday.
April 13, 2014
Smashed frogs and smashed loquats are the new smashed oranges.
April 11, 2014
In taking a hundred pictures of rocks, I remembered that I mostly only
ever look very long at pictures of people.
April 9, 2014
I dreamed I was building a house with walls one brick thick until I
realized they ought to be three bricks thick.
March 21, 2014
And here we built a monument to the memory of a memory of God.
March 20, 2014
It's the beginning of March and it's 65 degrees out and I'm wearing
shorts and I live three minutes from the beach. I went and sat against
a cement wall and watched people and waves and dogs and boats. Last
night one of my friends asked me to paint a picture of her dad and her
brother, and then this morning she found out that the ship her brother
is stationed on is currently in the harbor that I can see from the
beach. I could see his ship from where I sat and that was certainly
something to think about. An older dude with a beard and a ponytail and
a backpack on which he had written the word METAL came and sat down next
to me. We had a confusing conversation about Gladiator and Braveheart,
and then he unpacked and arranged his things and asked me to watch them
while he swam. When he came back he shared some snacks with me and we
had another confusing but significantly more satisfying conversation in
which he told me he was a Sufi, and upon learning that I was a Christian
but not Catholic or Orthodox, he approvingly said the word "cosmos"
March 9, 2014
Let a little wind in.
March 5, 2014
I am patient and defiant.
March 4, 2014
When no one was looking, I rested my chin on a stone and tilted forward
to slurp from the pool of rainwater collecting in a crater on the
March 2, 2014
Feeling gloomy, I found a reliable puddle and spent some time orbiting
the objects reflected in it. Then I sat and stared at a fence. First I
thought about Mohamed climbing and falling off of the fence, and then I
thought about the geometry created by the fence. Daniel approached
carefully and showed me a snail shell and a prehistoric cellphone
displaying the date March 1, 2005.
February 25, 2014
I borrowed some money and forgot my umbrella. While I stood in the
street an unnameable light fell through the clouds.
February 25, 2014
I want a pet lion or a toy lion or to be called a lion.
February 17, 2014
On Sundays I like to go read in the park. The park that I used to go to
was long and narrow and built along the remnants of an orange grove. I
found a table where I could stare at mountains and trees, and I carved
my name in it and went there every week. One week I watched a man and
his son walk down a small hill and into the trees, holding hands and red
buckets. Another week I watched a man filling up and pushing away
wheelbarrow fulls of dirt. Every week I watched chickens. Now I live
in a different neighborhood and have to find a different park. This
morning I met Daniel for breakfast, ate a cheese bun and shared a meat
moon, then tried to find the park with a fountain and a statue of a man
with a gun, but couldn't. When I got home I ate three tangerines and
sucked on a lemon and planted their seeds. While I was upstairs, a
white cat came and sat in an open windowsill, looking at the empty
February 9, 2014
Which is funner: wearing your friends' shoes, or wearing a
February 8, 2014
In the west window, surrounded by snail shells,
February 3, 2014
At the Zagreb airport I knew it was stupid to be annoyed that there were
no Slavoj éiûek statues whose bellies I could rub or who I could at
least sit down next to, but that didn't stop me from being annoyed. At
the top of the escalator I reminded myself that people are more
important than books, and at the bottom I wondered whether every person
is more important than every book, but by then I was confused about what
I was asking. I went to a window and layed down across three blue
airport chairs. If I could have seen through them I could have stared
out the window and seen a parking lot with yellow boxes beyond it and a
snowy field beyond the boxes and trees beyond the field and mountains
far beyond the trees. I fell asleep and dreamed that I was mashing a
potato with my bare left hand. I moved my hand in real life and it woke
me up and I stayed laying there with my face against the back of the
seat and I prayed for my friend Josh in Philadelphia. At some point in
the last few years, it has become my instinct upon waking up but before
I actually get up to pray a gloomy or joyful semi-coherent prayer.
January 28, 2014
where is a bathroom, where are the bleachers, that I may be alone
As the morning ended I sat scowling at a fountain. I wanted an ax.
Later, much calmer, while other people played volleyball, I walked
around on a large rectangle, moving the moon to different parts of a
January 10, 2014
I stared at the space heater like it was a campfire. I went out into
the cold and walked until I got a little lost; I still know how to do
January 8, 2014
I jumped off a small ledge in order to obtain a small object, but it
turned out to be larger and different and more buried than I realized.
Later I made eye contact with a stranger regarding an argument between a
cat and a crow.
January 1, 2014
When it all feels damp I trade gauze for burlap.
In my neighborhood, as in all neighborhoods, some piles are becoming
buildings and some buildings are becoming piles, but either way I touch
their bricks and breathe their dust. One night I took the bread to bed
with me; the dough rose while I slept. The next night I carried the
bread in a cold pot, stopping once to pretend to tie my shoe, but
actually doing something much grosser. I call many things
December 27, 2013
you're building the walls of your house and i'm scratching runes on the
December 18, 2013
My knees and teeth and eyes and hands aint gonna last as long as I need
December 15, 2013
I walked to the bleachers and sat down between a birdwing and a soggy
muscle magazine. I stared at the mountains with snow and then I stared
at the mountains without snow. I imagined buildings collapsing to make
way for the mountains, and mountains collapsing to make way for the sky.
December 10, 2013
I wandered into a church where everyone was singing "Love Will Tear Us
December 6, 2013
new boots, old books
December 2, 2013
imagine a history and insert yrself into it
I read a poem that made me feel like a neanderthal.
I woke up and made coffee and ate chocolate; read some psalms and a book
about wizards. After a while I walked to the park by the cemetery to
read an Egyptian novel. When I got there I sat down at a wooden table.
Two women at another table were eating something out of a plastic bag.
The day was gray and I remembered a sentence from a similar day in
Missouri: I walked all around on the fur-ground I found until it
turned to mud. I imagined many pomegranate seeds hanging in the
sky. A type of star visible only during the day. A web of rubies
orbiting the earth.
November 23, 2013
throwing a string across a canyon
November 19, 2013
popular stains: pomegranate, turmeric
November 9, 2013
building a tower, casting a bell
November 8, 2013
They put a cellphone tower right behind the mosque, and, seemingly
intentionally, it's just slightly taller than the minaret. But, I mean,
who knows: when I'm walking past them they both look way taller than
October 26, 2013
my arms and heart and brain float up and find nowhere to land
October 20, 2013
Climbing more stairs I thought what if this water was blood and
what if these stairs were a mountain and what if we were
Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq. And then I looked before me and behind me
and remembered that, well, what's under these stairs is a
A few days later, alone on a different mountain, I thought why's
there blood in my throat but not in my heart and if that's where
the wind's from then which way is north. I found a rock to sit on
and I listened to the woods until none of that mattered and on the way
down I found the severed head of a dove.
Now I'm back in my apartment with a softer slower wind and sounds I know
but can't name. Some plants stretch, some fold and unfold.
October 19, 2013
In the morning I layed in bed listening to sounds, looking forward to
being alone and not being alone. I imagined telling one of my friends
to tell his kid that instead of getting up so early every morning she
should try staying in bed having thoughts and feelings. Imagining both
conversations made me very happy. I want people to be able to stay in
bed as long as they want and for everyone to be able to have breakfast
on their own terms. Lately I prefer squinting lazily down my street and
through the park, meeting my friends for tea and tomatoes and olives and
simit and spreads; starting out in the sun, moving our table into the
shade. And on the days I can't have that I'm usually fine with no
breakfast at all.
The day was calm. I walked and talked, I planned and planted.
Later I broke a bowl and bled on camera. One half of the bowl become a
bandshell for a tiny orchestra and the other half become a sacred
October 13, 2013
I'm where oranges used to be.
October 10, 2013
I wanna light those lanterns; I want em to float up outta the holes I
October 8, 2013
be in one place be in one place
September 26, 2013
You can worship the magic fire on the mountain or you can acknowledge
that every fire is a magic fire. You can be in a place when you're in
that place or you can want every place to be a shitty bar, a shitty
I love scrambling up and down the Lycian hills, but the feeling is no
bigger or better than the feeling in Mark Twain National Forest or on
the hills outside of Manhattan Kansas. This is not a song against
Turkey, it's a song in praise of everywhere.
someday I'll be bald, someday I'll be blind
In the evening I walked to the beach the way I like - along a minor
wasteland, no busy streets. Four men were drinking wine in a parked
car. A pinecone fell from a tree and landed on the hood as I was
walking by, and one of the windrinkers yelped. When I got to the shore
it was empty except for a few people being romantic. Only a week ago it
stayed popular until late late at night, families eating picnics in the
dark and splashing against waves in the dark and naked babies screaming
in the dark. But tonight almost no one. I was wearing my swimsuit and
had intended to swim, but decided not to. The sea seemed glad to be
alone. I sat and looked and listened. On the way home, the men in the
car had spread a blanket on the sidewalk. Three of them were sitting on
it and one was peeing on a pile of rubble.
In the shower I remembered a dead person's mom. And then I remembered
the dead person, and then I remembered that the dead person is
September 16, 2013
it divides every day into decades
September 12, 2013
God said "that's a sound
August 28, 2013
sometimes a shadecut is better than a shortcut
There's a stain on the door of my kitchen cabinet in the spot where I
lean my forehead while I stand over the sink eating plum after plum
after plum after plum after plum.
August 17, 2013
I swim way out beyond everyone else. I like to slowly go out far enough
that when I come back hard and fast and strong I get exhausted and a
little panicky. Out there I float on my back, letting the ocean touch
my eardrums, trying to hear something new. Or I guess something old;
the oldest thing. I'm not old or fat and my belly barely breaches the
surface. Mostly my face and feet and my knees and the palms of my
hands. Now I'm thirty and I live in Turkey. Even when I think I'm
getting pulled out, I'm usually getting pulled back in.