Assume This

Assume it’s raining. Assume you’re in a good mood. Assume that’s because it’s raining. Assume the air is clean. Assume it isn’t. Assume the kitchen is a healthy place. Assume your parents were right. Assume you’re right too. Assume you’ll go out today. Assume you won’t wear a hat. Assume your head will get completely drenched. Assume you’ll stand under a dryer. Assume you’ll bask. Assume you’ll walk down the street. Assume you want some coffee. Assume you meet the love of your life. Assume neither of you has the wherewithal to notice. Assume you go on with your life. Assume things are good. Assume the rain stops, and the grass is very green, saturated. Assume things take a turn. Assume a car drives over the curb and skids through the grass. Assume some of the grass is crushed and dying. Assume some of it will grow back. Assume you’re crushed and dying. Assume none of you will grow back. Assume a man comes over and stands looking down at you. Assume that man is me. Assume I calmly, almost serenely tell you this entire story. Assume I’m lying.

~ ~ ~

MY NEW BUSINESS  ::  I’ve got the website and Facebook page UP, at least good drafts of them, so it seems a good a time as any to announce that my new enterprise of literary services, Power Unit 17, is open for business. Yay!

I’m offering a variety of services for individuals and organizations, including chapbook development and production, editing of poetry and prose, events booking and publicity (in the Bay Area), spoken performance coaching, and writing workshops of any sort. And anything else you can think of that I’m capable of.

You can get details on the website, which also has a page chock-full of reasons to trust me (ahem, my experience), by clicking HERE or on the banner or name above. There’s also a Power Unit 17 Facebook page, which you can check out and Like anytime, thank you. And if you do have any questions about those services (or business!), best to email me at info@PowerUnit17.com.

Yay!

~ ~ ~

You’re called in to your boss’ office and assume that you’re about to be fired, though you have no idea why. Maybe it’s because you don’t dress right. Maybe it’s because you were rude to that customer, though in all fairness they were rude first. Maybe you just don’t look right. You step in. Your boss is shuffling papers and says, without looking up, “Take a seat.” You do. “I’ll be just a minute,” he says. You look around. Everything seems spotless and orderly. Those books. Those framed pictures. That perfect plant. Even the paper shuffling sounds orderly. Rap, rap, rap! he cracks the stack of papers into alignment, and sets it down with a snap. Folds his hands on the desk and looks across at you. Smiles a big ferocious smile. Here it comes. “You’ve been here how long?” he asks, grinning and trying to read the shadows behind you. “Two months,” you say. “Two months!” he almost chortles. “Has it been that long? Seems like you’ve only been here a few days…” So that’s his tack, you posit. His grin gets bigger, toothy, lion-like. “How would you like a raise?” he asks. “A…raise?” you echo dumbly. “Yes,” he says, drawing in closer, eyes gleaming, “because you’re just so fucking cute.”

~ ~ ~

UPCOMING EVENTS  ::  Two events of note this month, one coming up TOMORROW since I’m so darn late posting this.  ::  The next-to-last Babar in Exile reading will happen in fact tomorrow, Thursday, February 13, at the scrumptious Himalayan Flavors in Berkeley. We’re proud to feature three intense and queerish writers, Russell Reza-Khaliq GonzagaTim Xonnelly, and “Honorary Babarian” Anna Allen, who will make your life a better place. And so will you, at our fab open mic. Come and be!  ::  And on Saturday, February 15, I’ll be co-hosting the Jazz & Poetry Party for the San Francisco Writers Conference at the Hyatt Embarcadero in SF. How fancy is that? (Probably too fancy for me…) The show will feature presenters from the SFWC Poetry Summit, localish lit celebs Dr. Andy Jones, Joyce Jenkins, Maw Shein Win, Diane Frank, and Lissa Provost. It starts at 7 in the Atrium of the hotel, at the far end from the entrance. All are welcome to check it out and, time permitting, sign up to read with or without the amazing band COPUS, but note that you will only be allowed in the area starting at 7. (Before that there’s a networking thingy for attendees.) You can hang out in the amazing Atrium for a bit before then though. It’s fancy.  ::  I’ll probably read a couple (fancy) poems at the Hyatt, but will I be doing a real reading any time soon, you might ask? Well, you know what they say about April…  ::  Deets for all on the Events page.

~ ~ ~

You’re at a party. You’re not liking the music. The food is kind of strange. You’re pretty sure the host has bad politics. You’re pretty sure they’re racist. You don’t know them, but your friend does. Your friend says they’re terrific once you get to know them. They have a large iguana in a small tank with a couple of sticks and leaves. It looks depressed. You wonder if iguanas can experience depression. They have nervous systems, don’t they? Lymph nodes and hormones? You’re not quite sure. Your friend starts talking about snakes. They seem to know a thing or two about them. They say there’s no way that snakes perceive the world anything like we do. You say, no way? They have brains, they have eyes, light comes in, they sense danger. It’s all instinctual, your friend says. You have to wonder. You once saw a snake eating another snake. That was also in a glass tank. The less fortunate of the two, slimmer, maybe a foot long, was being consumed tail first. About a third of it was inside the larger snake, being crushed and digested, and the rest, right up to its head, stuck out from the mouth absolutely straight and rigid as a pencil, its own mouth opened wide. You’d never imagined seeing a snake straight and rigid as a pencil. You turn to your friend and say, You’re all instinctual, then open the top of the iguana’s tank, lift it out gingerly, and walk out the front door.

~ ~ ~

REFLECT  ::  Two events lifted my spirits this months, both through music. The first was my own series #we, now just called a series of queer perspectives, since I’ve shifted from having just writers presenting to musicians and other creatives. And music it was, along with talks and discussions, heartfelt and ecstatic, by Sid Chen and Rybree Tree. Sid spoke about living and conveying his gayness in both American and Chinese languages and cultures, almost like having and being two persons, while vocalizing from the core and playing DIY music box scrolls. Really amazing. And Rybree sang their ecstatic wordlings and spoke passionately about living in-between genders, races, places, socioeconomics, and identities, and preferring it. I couldn’t have preferred anything else.  ::  Then to cap the month, went with the absolutely only Susan Pedrick to catch the Broun Fellinis and Skip the Needle at Albany’s own Ivy Room (terrific place, just go there). Was expecting some goodness, which was far exceeded. I left levitating. And with a lot of very scrawled new poems – see one now on the Fresh Words page. Amazing what a little sound can do. Thank you, musikers, for making and remaking. We are all the better for you.

~ ~ ~

You see a person standing on a corner staring at their phone. Are they going to cross the street? Someone is walking toward you up the block. You sense that they’re in a bad mood. Is that true? An old woman stands on a lawn looking up at the sky. What is she looking at? Is she looking at anything? Is she okay? Does she need help? You see a mom smack her child, who starts to bawl. You see a man asleep on a bench. You see a small dog walking down the street alone. You see a bicycle lying in the street. Who left it there? Why? You see a wrench on the sidewalk. The words “YOU ARE HERE” scrawled in the cement. A stray seashell. A single shoe. You go into a pharmacy to buy some chocolate, and the cashier is crying, clearly, quietly. You smile at them. You see that same woman on the corner, no longer with phone, staring ahead and crying. The woman on the lawn is also crying. A truck rumbles by, startling you. You look around. Take a slow breath. What are you assuming?

Sincerely,
Richard

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