PERCENT. [GMT-4 NEW YORK]Posted: June 14th, 2011 | Author: James Wang| No Comments »
A neighborhood boy speeds away on his bicycle self-importantly. He is off looking for some young ones that have been missing since lunch time. It is now evening, and the autumn sky is reddening. The cover of dogwood fruits that litter the yards is the same color of the pinks and oranges of the clouds. The sky is aglow with the dying light, a fading memory of morning. A mother paces on the porch with her hair in blue curlers. “Should I call the cops?” she thinks. A common scene where young boys will pass their time, can at anytime be a picture of heartbreak.
In ninth grade, my friend asked me to submit a poem for an English project. His class was accepting submissions for a literary journal that was to be representative of the freshman experience. He asked me during study hall one day, and I wrote a simple poem with an A-B-A rhyming scheme. Or maybe it was a haiku—either way, it was pretty horrible. His assignment was due, and I had ten minutes to throw something together before his class started. I think I had just seen Elliott Smith on the Oscars singing “Miss Misery” in this slightly undersized white suit and just thought it was brilliant. I titled my poem “Miss Misery,” and it was about some depressed girl gardening under a black light or some shit. Anyway, I really embraced the angst-ridden depressive teen as a part of my identity for much of my adolescence, and it has done nothing but hold me back—and make me a plagiarist!
wake up around 9 Am
think about writing
watch American Idol clips on YouTube instead
think about reading
fall back asleep
go to work late
Trash has a vile personality. Someone with no perspective of the world who reaps the fruits of a feeble intellect. A trashy person may subscribe to any number of faiths and/or political beliefs. What trash has in common with other trash is a lack of regard for human dignity. What distinguishes non-trash from the dregs is an unshakable sense of superiority, a complete willingness to disregard those with different views.
silver glow at night
shadows shrink back in the brush
a chill in the air
The gum smacking and nail clacking continued as separate beats. They very thoroughly embodied the cashier’s being. Her temperament, interests, pet peeves, were transmitted through her personal Morse code to those in the vicinity. They knew not to mess with her. Her fingers were capped with golden nails: one-and-a-half inches long with silver star decals. The stars were set into flight, careening wildly with every gesture, falling with every bored propping up of the head.
a rotten gate hangs
on hinges rusted with time
bound up in ivy
Simon stops in his tracks, standing in the middle of the aisle with his bottom lip puckered out.
“You can’t get it. Not today.”
Simon swings his arms as if they were leaden. He maintains a distance between him and his mother as a type of leverage. “Will I stay or will I run?” he seems to say.
The cicadas showed up by the hundreds about five years ago in Princeton, NJ. Periodical cicadas emerged from their nymph states after 17 years of subterranean slumber to amass on trees and sidewalks in crunchy carpets. They were hard to avoid and seemed lethargic from mating. Most of their lives are spent underground, and then they die shortly after transforming into their winged adult forms.
The cicadas arrived during my first year of vegetarianism; I remember making a conscious effort not to step on them and the rationale that I felt compelled to make known to my friends: “The difference between non-human animals and humans is one of degree not kind…” I was home for spring break, and the result of having a general lack of things to do, as I suspect is the case in most suburbs, was to congregate in the nearest yuppie-filled college town.
It was a day like any other in Princeton and we made all the stops: indian food, ice cream at Halo Pub, coffee, and an indie film at the theater where people laughed very often at nothing at all, always with a knowing air, a kind of controlled ha-ha-ha, which is different from a true laugh elicited from, say, a racist joke. The cicadas, when crushed underfoot, smelled like pine, or some earthy essence of the root-sap they fed on for so long. That day we walked on the tips of our toes, ice creams in hand, ignoring the bizarre scene around us—one of invasion by those creatures who populated a young planet—their story of rebirth and death.
I have since resumed eating meat, something that I try not to talk about (oops) but am reminded of at every meal. Once I was asked how long I had been vegetarian for. I counted back self-importantly to my sophomore year when I had taken that philosophy class with Ms. Bodanzsky, that strange women with the frizzy pouf of hair and googly-eyes (whom I have seen riding a bike in Princeton now that I think of it). I think back to that spring with the cicadas in Princeton.
stopped mid-roll in fields
bales lay damp with the rain fall
smell of heat and endless days
Rothko is fidgeting underneath the table with his sandpaper tongue lapping greedily. The man looks at his dog sternly and pulls his sandwich out from Rothko’s view. He looks at the dog once again, tears off the end of the baguette and tosses it to the ground gruffly. Rothko glances at the piece of bread and back at his owner with a confused look. The dog growls indignantly, “Really. Years of supplication and constant companionship for lousy back rubs and crusty-ass french bread. I should tear out your throat.” The man drops his sandwich to the ground in disbelief; his jaw follows suit. Rothko laps up the remains with vigor, tail wagging joyously as a tail should after a battle has been rightfully won—with one empty threat and a guilt-trip.
Self-portrait with my stuff.
1. Your roommates have finished the last ice cream sandwich at your expense.
2. You get horrible gastrointestinal afflictions as a result of consuming spoiled food at a party.
3. You are stuck in traffic behind a poor driver.
4. You are engaged in conversation with someone who is convinced you care deeply about his occupation.
5. Your mother keeps sending chain emails and/or slideshows of flowers, kittens, etc.
a brisk wind sweeps in
leaves fall to the ground and brown
downy white snow fall
leaves fall to the ground and brown
downy white snow fall
What you wear is how you express yourself to the world. Here are some ways to enhance your sexual desirability, as well as communicate your sense of self.
Plaid: You were an ugly duckling who wore your older sister’s Siouxsie and the Banshees t-shirt to bed. You enjoy wearing greasy sweatpants in your leisure time and feel an affinity for the outdoors. Wear plaid to make known your folksy mid-western origins, buffalo plaid if you are a hipster from 2008.
Paisley: You are one of two things: a hopeless romantic or a shlub who has rifled in your papa’s wardrobe.
If the former is true, work those two-tone wingtips sockless and tie that paisley ascot tight because making your superiority known is not a cake walk—don’t forget to cuff your chinos so as to avoid the filth black-splash of the common man.
If the latter is true, chest hair is best hidden from the light of day, so button up your top buttons and un-pop your collar, please. You look like the nostalgic disco-king cashier from Bangalore I saw at the Hudson News in Penn Station, and I am not taking any of your guff today, mister.
Houndstooth: You see yourself as down-to-earth and are usually disinterested in fashion, perhaps even disdainful. Your houndstooth scarf is the one article of clothing you have deemed “arty” and feel compelled to wear on a day trip to NYC to blend in with the locals. Please wear this print in neon colors and on hoodies if at all possible. Wearing a neon houndstooth hoodie would be best for those trying to avoid you.
Floral: You are thrilled this print is back in vogue, as once again you have the opportunity to emulate your favorite tv sitcom actresses, that girl in Blossom and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Drop that spade and brush the vermiculite out of your hair—the terrarium-planting can wait. You are carefree and should take some time to bathe in the sun and down a pitcher of Crystal Light as you thumb through your vintage copy of Mrs. Dalloway
In the “Origins of Language” Renee Magritte displays a single promontory jutting out of a body of water under a bright sky scattered with nimbus clouds. Focusing on the promontory, one notices the isolation of the platform in what may be an endless expanse of water. The image appears to be a sort of logical puzzle in which one is forced to fill in the gaps. The positioning of the elements themselves poses questions, and encourages a narrative to be developed to explain what is presented.
From what vantage point is the viewer seeing this platform? One feels an urge to inject humanity into the scene, to see themselves, perhaps, staring out from the frame, perched on a rock in utter solitude. As much as the painting seems to accomodate a fictitious narrative, or emotionally parallel our own isolation as individuals, to be so eager to draw symbols is literally seeing what is not there. The very awareness of yourself, the painting, the lonely image, answers in part the question of language and the ability to philosophize, emote, and ponder the strange and fantastic. Whether you know the title of the piece upon seeing it is irrelevant insofar as your innate capabilities of language. The painting engages your senses and produces language whether internal or external. In this way Magritte makes one use language as opposed to merely explaining its origins, though some have tried that too: The Biblical account of the Tower of Babel seems a feeble attempt in comparison.
1. Coitus interruptus: potential means of birth control.
2. Someone cutting into conversation: saved from another’s egotistical blather.
3. Unmanageable precipitation: snow day.
4. Office Assistant Paperclip in Microsoft Office ‘98: develop saint-like tolerance.