Memos (Selection)

Memos started as an experiment in lo-tech: I wanted to write poetry but did not have a book or pen. Thus, I turned to my (cheap) phone’s “Memo” function, which had a limited number of characters, 100, I believe. The limitation proved to be formally enabling. The original plan was to have 50 so-called memos. I am learning to give up “original plans” and listen to the shape of writing.

When I started this project, I didn’t know about Teju’s Small Fates. I am fascinated by this turn toward the “small,” the “aphoristic,” the “incidental,” the “paratactic.”

Here are the first 35.


You say my indifference to love is irrational. We are all islanders, after all. Fate-driven.

A man slips and the fall waits. It will catch up. On Sundays grace abounds on wet pavements and gum.

He whispered his shame in the brightly lit studio to escape the nosy doors and the curious paint chips.

Heat waves expand voices to compensate for evolutionary shrinkage. Now we all have white buds.

He thought trouser shorts egregious and yearned for cotton sarongs. The men kept being adjusted.

Attaches to. A man on a radiating brick. That summer tans were all baked sourdough. Wheat clouds.

She’s never even had calamari before. Come here. She’s never even had lamb chops. A thin metal leg.

Echo to Narcissus: It was the tremolo

He thought the question charming and plucked a spiny leaf.

The art of the crisp, white shirt is not hard to master. A maid here a laundry elsewhere.

Job to Saul: my scabs for your blindness.

Saul to Job:

On the first days of wet months as canvas morphs to leather and shiny mirrors slide, dark ice

I was standing by the window when you called, and the smell of fresh and here met a dreaming, ascent

If you look, there might be a discovery, yet to be found, fertility-laden pebbles, and delayed feeling

He asked if 8 would suffice, as corridors walked, and passages climbed, counting architecture, cubed

The three things would have been essential were it not for the five, scales from the fishy eyes, falling

He wanted a story that was rich in irony, but leucocytes kept gobbling up rare bits, ravenously

On the plane, foreignness is always belated, top ten classics for obsolescent regimes, and disco

As though evenings had to end, as with so much. Today there are kisses and a sense of vegetal warmth.

She says that it will get better along three months, when time lines up, moons stretch, bodies fold

As though the inevitability of it could be known, a song ahead of its notes, lyrics before words

He had been humming, a soundless melody. When endings came it was surprising. We did not expect so.


I want the security of lingering glances, to be specific and particular, but I keep glancing away, overcome by the prospect of possibility.

To stand in the gap means to intercede, but one fragments along uneven lines, offering representative pieces as guarantees.

In loud voices one can say anything

But one fears the sudden silence

The risk of discovery

Untrained, his blushes stain time

You ask if the world can be nudged, time made accommodating, space capacious, if this will ease the sensibility of sensation

Variation One


In winter mud feels black, but without the stick of clay. Green sticks in the ground, though roots are always in flight. Tell me about your dreams. He kept whispering to holes in the ground, waiting for the kindness of termites. Cicadas sang his secrets. Glass shivers in anticipation.


At the change it was sliding. He learned to ice on mud. Have you ever seen this before? The un-newness of slides. The wet of ice and mud is unsightly. But snow retains its cold. We were sliding into place, almost swept away. It remained difficult to stay in position.


Staccato echoes. It says sharp when it is more quack. But ducks lack the elegance of knives. Cutting elegance. Even though hacking is more eloquent. One cannot set music to coughs. Musicians live in cold garrets. Rasp happens. Sometimes when you are hoarse it becomes the occasion for consummation.


Echoes slide but we like to say they bounce. We fear creeping sound. And the silence of open windows. Benign inflation. If you shut the window, the winter sun curls leaves. Green imposters. At the end of the film you will discover that the secrets that must be discovered were yet to be explored. This is called genre.


Hunger. At the end you will be left wanting more than blushes, more than kisses, more than warm toast with slatherings of marmite. Wanting appetite leaves one famished, as though drought can be managed through famine. You will be left wanting. It might be possible to conflate need and desire.

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