Thursday, August 28, 2014


I met Alana Baldwin ten years ago in college at Auburn.  We were on Auburn's student literary magazine together, and we bonded when we realized the same guy had invited each of us over (on different occasions, of course) to hang out at his place, where he spontaneously broke out his guitar to stare into our eyes and play us a song.  He played her a Pixies song, and he played me "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer, solidifying which of us he thought was cooler.  (And yes, I ran the heck out of there as soon as the song was over.)   

Her challenge for me to was to write about continuity.  She was inspired by the documentary Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?, a series of interviews with Noam Chomsky by Michel Gondry.  I came very close here to explaining Chomsky's idea of psychic continuity as he relates it in the film, but I was beginning to bore and confuse myself.  Suffice it to say -- he's interested in how we put together our observations (that to him often have no inherent meaning) and see them as whole.  One example he uses is that the Charles River could have many additions (pollution, tributaries), but remain the Charles River to us. Gondry uses the example that when he meets with an old friend he hasn't seen in a while, at first the man is like a stranger, but after he speaks with him for about 20 minutes, the man transforms into his friend again.
I put all this together and related it to something else Chomsky said about how many people have the need to believe that existence continues after this life ends, and that he doesn't need that, but he is sympathetic to people who do. 

A decade of friendship with someone necessarily means reconciling the new self with the old self I remember from ten years ago.  This also reminded me of friendship with God, and how this friendship causes you to change in ways that are difficult to reconcile with who you once were.   
At any rate, Alana is an incredibly creative person, an excellent graphic designer, and a good friend.  You can find some of her work here -, and you can also peruse some accidentally obscene logos she is in the process of collecting here -

The Beginning and The End

We were taught scripture, though
we misrememebered it--
in the beguilement, mouths corrupted the holy
and the born, and the born were without fortunes,
and dogwoods shadowed the nightmares of the sea.
And the sputter of ghosts marred the first weather.

And both of us said - let this be left.

When I met you, you collected odd shirts,
and as I follow the progression of human history
from Adam naming the animals to the moment
we became friends, I note
the shirt you wore the day we met was covered in animals
wearing braces, holding up mirrors for each other,
each one enraptured by his own caged smile.

You still have the shirt, ten years later,
but don't wear it anymore when making friends.

"I know Christians by looking
in their eyes at that unearthly kindness,"
you said, and you weren't sure
if you saw it in mine then.

When you graft an odd branch to a tree,
when does it begin to belong?
A man to the faith of men,
a friend to a friend.
It belongs in stages, and even
when it rises, seamless,
its fruit could be a different shape
than the fruit of the other branches.

We could choose
to see this world as whole.

As an act of friendship, you entertained
my worries, which you said were contagious,
that I'd bring with us like smallpox
into eternity.

I learned slowly that when we worry,
we lose hope, and when we lose hope,
we lose our friends.

After Christ ascended,
his friends thought they were living in the end.
I think we're living, and I know it ends.

This is all very touching. I appreciate your thoughtful words + wish I could reciprocate on the same level. Flexing my visual muscles all these years, instead of the verbal ones, has made my thoughts very muddled and strangely pictorial. So, I'll draw you something.

A shallow drawing for a deep + meaningful poem. Tradesies?

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