Monday, July 13, 2009

Star Spangled Breakfast

Yesterday I did something I have never done before: I called the customer satisfaction line to complain about a product I had purchased. I have sent letters before, but when I saw the 800 number on my box of Olympic Rice Krispies, I could not resist the quick fix, a phone call.

Elaine who answered my call somewhere in Battle Creek, Michigan was very nice, but I could only imagine what she told her husband when she got home from work yesterday.

I called and said, “I just spent the last half hour sifting red and blue stars out of my Rice Krispies.

“I know that food dyes are perfectly safe to eat, but I do not want to eat them, that is why I like Rice Krispies. If I wanted food dye, I would eat Fruity Pebbles. I like Rice Krispies because they are always the same. They have been the same since I was little, then these stars…”

Elaine kindly explained that the stars were to celebrate the Olympics for a limited time only, but that I should look carefully on the package because in the near future there would be boxes of Rice Krispies with red and green shapes to celebrate Christmas.

“There must be other ways to celebrate besides putting dye in the food,” I heard myself saying to this professionally nice lady on the other end of the line.

When I was a kid, there was a prize in the box. A little sports car with a toothed plastic strip that you would have to snap out of the mold and pull through a hole in the car where the teeth turn a wheel and the car goes. We all got prizes then. We were not fed such weird things as red #4 and Blue #2 in celebration of Olympics or Christmas. We ate food that was just food, not genetically engineered food and not dyed to match the season.

“May I send you some coupons for your next box of rice Krispies?”
“Will Rice Krispies be available without dyed shapes?”
“Only the ten ounce box.”

The ten ounce box, designed for ancient widows living alone. Party poopers, hags, forever on the shelf, without shocking colors.

The colors are for kids after all.

As if Rice Krispies could be any more entertaining? Snap, Crackle and Pop are now not good enough. They will be more appealing with colored pieces in them. I suppose you could get used to food that has enhancements as entertainment.

I returned to the kitchen, no more satisfied than before. There were two bowls on the counter. My Rice Krispies had gone soggy and a huge bowl of full of red and blue stars with a few pale pieces speckled in. Also on the counter were ten pounds of potatoes. I had taken them out of their bag because the mesh window was the perfect size to allow the Rice Krispies through and keep the red and blue stars out. I had tried the pasta colander and onion mesh bag after I grew tired of picking them out by hand – an endless task.

I looked at the bowl of red and blue stars which were destined for the trash and thought of all the starving children and all the bankrupt farmers. Something is wrong with this world.

Take the cost of the food dye to ship these cereal stars to the people who need to eat. Put that on the box as my Olympic celebration. Tell the children the truth – even the farmers are starving as you eat shit that can kill you.
No Submerged Purpose:
A Collection of Poems, 2008

By Karin Falcone

“Only emotion endures.”
-- Ezra Pound



the moon is a banana
there are many peaches
inside out bathing suits
hanging on doorknobs
drown out the jumbo jets
hibiscus’ twisted blossoms
landing in our above ground pool
grown up as spoiled weeds.

I pluck the bottle from
my sleeping baby son
late July
he came like when you order a pizza
and it comes…


Koans of Self Esteem:

If I understand things will be as they are
They will be as they are
If I don’t understand things will be as they are
They will be as they are
God’s got me where he wants me but I don’t know what he wants
I can accept it but I don’t have to like it.

The past is but the beginning of a beginning
The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear
To remember God, forget yourself
The way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing

Trying is effort without action
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
There is nothing in the way but me
Nobody is going to set your dreams for you
Without faith it is impossible to please God

Wallowing in the complete loss to regain the new truth
Why would God give me more than I could bear?
When I get to the point of anger to find the grace
Emotional sickness is avoiding reality at all costs.

How can I create my own reality?
Be a magnet for heart’s desire
Are you wearing your dreams?
Desire vs. intention

Even if others lie to you it is ok.
They are lying to you because they are afraid
you will discover they are not perfect.
Process not perfection

To find your own way you must close your eyes and walk in the dark.

(Constructed from found phrases from my notebooks: Alanon. The Four Agreements. Instant Zen. Hour of Power. Adoption Crossroads. Yoga and Polarity.)

Green Grows Wild in His White Guy World
(for Dale Pendel)

It agrees with him, means go, greets him
blip blip blip
just when he boots up. Green
is his high tech and rustic
green is his mansmell and distant
all the things that make him say
what’s your favorite color
It is…
political; it is primordial
And it is working, working for him
at this
speed of life – Karma --
can’t catch up to verdigris
can choke out open space
Old Spice – green
Fucking on pine needles green
“It’s not easy being green.”
The frog who moves with ease
from water to land and to jump into the air
Let’s take the frog to be our
mascot for green:
moving through the elemental
daring to slip through all occasions

Weeds up from cracks now
Corroded battery patina green
Green eggs and grouches

Weekend warrior stalking the wild_________
has paid the highest price
There in his pocket is where the arrowroot
exhuberance exhausts itself.

Clearly this is a winner!
A remarkable absinthe!
A romance of next thing!
A manly kind of plant like ivy:
It just grows, pinate and foliate
one leaf at a time
I’ve got Fibonacci’s number…
A new leaf every day!
Green eyes and bottle flies.
Seven Years of Dreams (Excerpt 2)

Up in the old dark walk up
he had decided after wandering
hilly and brighter streets
the presence of nothing working
at the rock and roll homeless shelter.
The rock and roll homeless shelter
movie is being made by Ron Howard,
Tom Hanks and a system.
Joe had decided after a few
months working at the homeless
shelter that it was a system
like any other and he decided he would
dedicate his life to
smashing the system.
How did they get that shot?
The place, the woman, Cameron Diaz
walking through the desert?
They mail the dedicated films
back overnight to the mother of
a smashing extra making
many comments on it as the
system gets cut off.

(Palimpsest, two dreams)

Someone is habitating Lafayette everywhere.
By virtue of the 2 sexes he found
he was like Noah with the creatures.
Nothing could stop the tape player
could confuse books and dogs
ride til you hit the curb “surprise”
group shot at with razor tipped arrows
after many filmic near misses they finally get it-
children women and men. Roaches
swarm outside the door. After a performance,
hair hennaed blue only sticks to roots and tips.
Japanese technicolor beer labels: chameleon
is a well loved lizard. Talent show: I am #11,
turns out to be last. I have no material
plan to read dream fragments from a notebook I forgot.

Meaningless Oaxaca: Elegy for Brad Will (1968-2007)

“I went through that whole damn web site and I still can't figure out whatthe riot started over, though.”–Tara Stone

After moving to the suburbs to raise a child, we’d lost touch
When my Stuy-town roommates locked me out, he let me stay:
the famous Ave. B squat, the one he scaled as the wrecking ball struck,
so reported the New York Times, while I nursed my son, safe.

When I was broke back in those days he encouraged me to not be ashamed
to accept the DSS worker’s verbal abuse in exchange for food stamps,
and he knew an all night bodega, pleased to accept them as legal tender
When we couldn’t afford the admission price at St. Mark’s, we could still drink
bodega Fosters, roam and sing with the other beautiful lousy lost white kids.

When I felt guilty I could go home to a shower, when someone would buzz me in,
I invited him over to do the same, (he needed it), fix a little dinner, sing another song.
Dinners meatless and high protein, songs Woodie Guthrie and Neil Young,
One time we fooled around, (after a shower), but when you know someone so long
you don’t know how to be. With our hands I’ll touch you and you touch me.

When I met Brad at Naropa, it wasn’t politics, nor poetics, but damn my solid friend,
roll up on his bike, freak flag flying, and I would abandon my writing, off to the foothills we went, unwinding all of the ideas and shamanic herbs, there to get me so massively high before the evening poetry readings that my ears would pound with their own blood, and his indiscriminately loud laughter. I would shush him all the time. Allen Ginsburg! Ferlinghetti! Brad laughing too loud! We had fun in Boulder.

When you are young and from the suburbs, like me, and meet someone like Brad who is young and from the suburbs and does not go the traditional way, who makes his own way, you get a little courage. I probably spent as much time telling him to actually enroll in college as he did trying to get me to put in a summer of hard labor at Dreamtime. One time he disappeared. A rich, beautiful visiting Chilean poet fell for him and sent him a ticket to Santiago. You can’t do that when you have school the next day.

One day we stopped at Boulder Cemetery after a bike adventure – he knew of some legend, some famous people there, and I shot his photo, lank in purple leaning on a broken tombstone, which of course takes on some prophetic air now but I don’t buy it. It was just our moment in time. I propped it by my computer when I got the email from David K, Brad Will’s Memorial Service, and one of his house, the random ice sculpture that happened because the gutter was broken.

When I got the email, I was fighting to hold onto my crappy career at the university, compare side by side with, Brad was fighting for the rights of striking Mexican teachers in Oaxaca, compare side by side with, Brad’s passionate life, my petty midlife life crisis.

I passed the email to my Tara, my oldest best buddy, who found me again, who actually had a lot of sex with Brad in Boulder. After all of the stunned remarks, my god I can’t believe it, dead, shot, my god, surreal, could it be true, she said one thing that really inspired me. “I still don’t exactly understand what is going on down there.”

“Do not underestimate the power of markets fueled by blood.” Which I wrote
in all seriousness, in a pompous ass essay, as if I could explain it to the world in a way that would further my mission. The university dismissed me soon after.

Fuck the university and fuck Oaxaca, too. And so Brad,
did you die doing the good soul work? or on some misguided mission to fix
everything broken inside you? A kick in the gut to ask yourself this, but ask it.

Don’t you know that wherever you live, whatever you do, you work and they bleed you and then you die. Or then you have to go and go off the map and die trying to change
all that?

Brad, our loveable goofball friend, the one guy no one would take too seriously,
he is the one who had the tenacity, to create a remarkable anarchist resume, a legacy
which we read about in Rolling Stone, postmortem.

Easter at Sebago Lake, 2003

Today I come to you
Broken by my own stick
Together we nailed each other on every sin of self
Could all plans be fought against grace?

Live in this skin and the horror is final
I thought I found the one and I did
He is lone wolf. He is beyond reason.
He teaches me his tricks and forests.
He stays or leaves. He stays absent,
Sounds from the bursting trees fall
Abandoned to the casual

Late at night we talk by the fire
under the stars in gorgeous desire
Late at night we bicker by the fire
Bottles clink against this half moon
A severe semi circle, half empty, half full.
How could one night be so perfect and the next so ugly?
Palm Sunday and Good Friday?

It is tough and we suffer, but not endlessly.
Perhaps this is the end.

What could possibly be created from the shards of this war?
What resurrection?
“What you fear the most has already happened.”

Accommodation vs. acceptance

Faced with lies and passionate love
All is dramatics and pain.

Your dark side pressed into service by my hunger.

Third Date Sex
(after Sharon Olds)

There is no point getting in the way of this any longer.
I was just in it for the knowing
You all night, to see you in the morning
We are athletes in the bed,
Peeking at you peeking at me, a squinted eye
An embarrassed and shy, see me see you like this
Grinding in oblivion
Will I be your booty call now?
Or do I get to meet your friends?
We couldn’t call it making love.
Did giving in to lust ruin that?
Would I have grown more capable of letting my heart in
In a month or a decade?
Sex without love, again.
But closer and closer, to getting and giving the real good thing.
You are adorable, but too risky to call it
That kind of love.
You ask me to stay all night
The most delightful invite
Will one day you ask me to stay longer?
What will I say?

Letter to my birth mother
It is evening and my young son is snoozing beside me in bed.
A touch of cold comes in through the window and a familiar pain
touches my temple as my mind tries to take over the writing of this.

Just a postcard of my life, nothing really profound to say.
I imagine making a picture album of my life as I do for my son
so that if we ever meet you could see it.

I am concerned about you.
I had a vision and you looked so tired and worked to the bone.
Your hair was colored blonde and your thin face worried. It feels sad.
I have no idea if this is true.

Something in me likes to preserve the mystery of the past.
Something else fears our meeting:
“Everything is ok now – what can of worms will this open!”
Just the opposite of how I felt not long ago:
“I am not good enough and you will think I am after something.”
How funny the range of sabotage!

I get angry at the laws and the government, the lies of life, but truth is
I’m not sure. I know that there is a rage to know.
I am trying to get to know myself. This does not end.
I cannot imagine your earthly life – just the idea of you
except in very small frightening moments, like a memory of a beating heart.

There is a woman named Lisa
(I am no longer Lisa)
who has my eyebrows
a fascinating thing.

Somehow I think Lisa can help me find you.
Awareness of self is something I preach.
I know not from where I came. Is this any mystery?

If I lay this to rest… I know nothing works like that.
Imagine at 30, at 50 getting a new parent, a new kid, how odd… and messy.
For the kid in me who misses you and longs for you and the kid in you who feels the same, I pray. I pray these heartbreaks can be told, Amen.

Love, Karin
Notes: 1. I was given the name Lisa at the time of my birth but my name was changed and those records sealed at the time of my adoption.
2. My birth mom and I were reunited three years later.

(Exhibit, Museum of Natural History, 2/26/2002)

Multicolored pearl, species unknown
Cumberland River, Tennessee
River poluted with iron and manganese
Giving the pearl its unusual color

Victorian heart, given to m’ lady in 1843
Four Scottish pearls, fresh-water, ultra-white
“which I am delighted with,” said she.

Forged to lilies of the valley, and
Lillian Russell’s chrysanthemum
Layer upon layer of lustrous nacre
And then, all the rage, pearl buttons

Four years after the spat left the hatchery
Mabe’ pearl seed oysters, hauled aboard harvest
Raped (on video) of their Japanese mystery

“Pearls to strengthen the heart,
amber and garnet to stem the flow of blood.”
logic of the jewel encrusted handle
vintage circumcision knife.

pussy willow, acorn, wing-ed seed pods
“The Blossoms of Thoughts on the Most Precious Of Stones”
One irritating mistake, such fabulous baubs

Just call me La Peregrina, the pilgrim.
Up from the cold dark wet and sexy
Into the mouth of an unsuspecting patron, lunch
Oyster bar, New York City, 1873.

(from found words and phrases: exhibit’s note cards)

Notebook’s end

What else can I do with the night
now that it’s too late?
It is my time.
It is night.

It is summer.
Its waning days
dampness, fan’s engine
neglected gardens
shifting wardrobes
An occasional scent:
the first hint of autumn

On that Brooklyn rooftop
a wistful feeling
a premonition perhaps
Who has sketched lives
Over this rings?
“How far Is Manhattan
as the bird flies?”

Could we guess it?
2009 Writer’s Group Dates
Come together in a community of writers as we share our process, our work and our hearts in a beautiful, new contemplative space.

Friday Evenings, 7:30-9:30pmJuly 31
August 28
September 25
October 30
November 20
December 18

YogaPolarity Center Annex
333 Hempstead Ave., Suite 202
Malverne, NYFee: $20
Facilitator:Karin Falcone, MFA
RSVP Please
516 528-5829

All are welcome. Just bring your pen, paper and desire. I will lead some exercises and experiments in collective memory and rare literary traditions from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School. We will have some fun in community and see what happens!

"What I seem to have to do is have someone to address in order to begin, then lose that, mix it up, get mixed up myself, let the language take over, work out some structures within that, see an ending, bypass it and see how much longer I can last, then collapse at some false ending, casting the work aside with some unspoken hope that I may have made some discovery."-- Bernadette Mayer, from "Disembodied Poetics"

Karin Falcone holds a Master of fine Arts in Writing and Poetics from The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder , CO , a college dedicated to Buddhist inspired contemplative practice. She has taught writing for ten years as an adjunct professor at area colleges, and is the published author of many articles, poems, stories and chapbooks. In addition, she has earned Registered Polarity Practitioner status and 200 Hour Yoga Certification from Yoga Polarity Center .