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The Journal of Betania Tesch

from Daniil Kharms' The Old Woman in which a dead woman imposes
05/28/2004 04:34 a.m.
"What are your feelings about dead people?," I ask Sacerdon Mikhailovich.
"Entirely negative," says Sacerdon Mikhailovich. "I'm afraid of them."
"I can't stand dead people either," say I. "Show me a dead person and, even if he be a relative of mine, I'd certainly give him a good belt with my foot."
"It's not on to kick corpses," says Sacerdon Mikhailovich.
"I would kick him right in the face," I say. "I just can't stand dead people and children."
"You're right, children are awful," agrees Sacerdon Mikhailovich.
"And in your opinion, which are worse: dead people or children?" I ask.
"Children, I dare say, are worse - they get in our way more often. Whilst you couldn't exactly say that dead people intrude on our lives," says Sacerdon Mikhailovich.
"You could! You could!!" I shout, and then immediately fall silent.
Sacerdon Mikhailovich looks at me long and hard.

I am currently Cool
I am listening to dido

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very silly...
05/20/2004 05:54 p.m.
He's the kind of boy who leaves me
with pizza boxes and parking tickets
and a bloody gash in the middle
of my whimpering grey heart.
He's the kind of boy who leaves me
with little sleep and aching hips
and the sweetest satistfaction
spilled onto my skin.

And I miss him...goddess, I miss him.
I am currently Affectionate
I am listening to camera obscura in head

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so much invested
04/02/2004 12:41 a.m.
I guess I should have known better. My honesty was exploited. I wish I could be more jaded...that my vanity didn't get in the way of my practicality. I want to close up again.
I am currently Detached
I am listening to Bjork - Aeroplane

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I am a bad person
03/30/2004 03:08 a.m.
I am not above hurting other people on purpose to prove a point. Is that wrong?
I am currently Brooding
I am listening to Tori Amos - Cooling

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It's raining for us, raining for us now...
03/26/2004 11:35 p.m.
I don't even let my fanatsies end happily.
I am currently Melancholy
I am listening to Josh Ritter - Rainslicker

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all I really know is I don't wanna know...
12/07/2002 05:59 a.m.
I don't know what I was hoping for, but it's not happening. I don't feel like I can do this anymore. No one will see this anyway...

things are getting worse but I feel a lot better and that's all that really matters to me...
I am currently Empty
I am listening to morrissey in my head

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and I hate and I hate and I hate elevator music the way we fight
11/07/2002 12:30 a.m.
I am

if not


and ever-so


when I open

my lips

my head

and show you

how empty

it all is.
I am currently Empty
I am listening to seinfeld theme

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11/03/2002 07:19 a.m.
I remember fascination
as a drug most seductive,
whether given or received.
Although perhaps one can
build up an immunity
and fascination can become
an irritating obligation.
or perhaps there is a
statute of limitations
on how long one can be
before she becomes
merely amusing.
I wish I could
enrapture you
capture you
and enamore you
engross you
in the spaces between
my skin.
Yet I feel as though
you cannot hear me
when I speak the same language
you met me with.
I am unilingual--
I speak only mytongue
and I wonder if you
have forgotten it so easily.
I am currently Tired
I am listening to edie carey in my memory

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9/11 poem for the politically uninhibited
09/08/2002 11:21 p.m.
self evident

us people are just poems
we're 90% metaphor
with a leanness of meaning
approaching hyper-distillation
and once upon a time
we were moonshine
rushing down the throat of a giraffe
yes, rushing down the long hallway
despite what the p.a. announcement says
yes, rushing down the long stairs
with the whiskey of eternity
fermented and distilled
to eighteen minutes
burning down our throats
down the hall
down the stairs
in a building so tall
that it will always be there
yes, it's part of a pair
there on the bow of noah's ark
the most prestigious couple
just kickin back parked
against a perfectly blue sky
on a morning beatific
in its indian summer breeze
on the day that america
fell to its knees
after strutting around for a century
without saying thank you
or please

and the shock was subsonic
and the smoke was deafening
between the setup and the punch line
cuz we were all on time for work that day
we all boarded that plane for to fly
and then while the fires were raging
we all climbed up on the windowsill
and then we all held hands
and jumped into the sky

and every borough looked up when it heard the first blast
and then every dumb action movie was summarily surpassed
and the exodus uptown by foot and motorcar
looked more like war than anything i've seen so far
so far
so far
so fierce and ingenious
a poetic specter so far gone
that every jackass newscaster was struck dumb and stumbling
over 'oh my god' and 'this is unbelievable' and on and on
and i'll tell you what, while we're at it
you can keep the pentagon
keep the propaganda
keep each and every tv
that's been trying to convince me
to participate
in some prep school punk's plan to perpetuate retribution
perpetuate retribution
even as the blue toxic smoke of our lesson in retribution
is still hanging in the air
and there's ash on our shoes
and there's ash in our hair
and there's a fine silt on every mantle
from hell's kitchen to brooklyn
and the streets are full of stories
sudden twists and near misses
and soon every open bar is crammed to the rafters
with tales of narrowly averted disasters
and the whiskey is flowin
like never before
as all over the country
folks just shake their heads
and pour

so here's a toast to all the folks who live in palestine

el salvador

here's a toast to the folks living on the pine ridge reservation
under the stone cold gaze of mt. rushmore

here's a toast to all those nurses and doctors
who daily provide women with a choice
who stand down a threat the size of oklahoma city
just to listen to a young woman's voice

here's a toast to all the folks on death row right now
awaiting the executioner's guillotine
who are shackled there with dread and can only escape into their heads
to find peace in the form of a dream

cuz take away our playstations
and we are a third world nation
under the thumb of some blue blood royal son
who stole the oval office and that phony election
i mean
it don't take a weatherman
to look around and see the weather
jeb said he'd deliver florida, folks
and boy did he ever

and we hold these truths to be self evident:
#1 george w. bush is not president
#2 america is not a true democracy
#3 the media is not fooling me
cuz i am a poem heeding hyper-distillation
i've got no room for a lie so verbose
i'm looking out over my whole human family
and i'm raising my glass in a toast

here's to our last drink of fossil fuels
let us vow to get off of this sauce
shoo away the swarms of commuter planes
and find that train ticket we lost
cuz once upon a time the line followed the river
and peeked into all the backyards
and the laundry was waving
the graffiti was teasing us
from brick walls and bridges
we were rolling over ridges
through valleys
under stars
i dream of touring like duke ellington
in my own railroad car
i dream of waiting on the tall blonde wooden benches
in a grand station aglow with grace
and then standing out on the platform
and feeling the air on my face

give back the night its distant whistle
give the darkness back its soul
give the big oil companies the finger finally
and relearn how to rock-n-roll
yes, the lessons are all around us and a change is waiting there
so it's time to pick through the rubble, clean the streets
and clear the air
get our government to pull its big dick out of the sand
of someone else's desert
put it back in its pants
and quit the hypocritical chants of
freedom forever

cuz when one lone phone rang
in two thousand and one
at ten after nine
on nine one one
which is the number we all called
when that lone phone rang right off the wall
right off our desk and down the long hall
down the long stairs
in a building so tall
that the whole world turned
just to watch it fall

and while we're at it
remember the first time around?
the bomb?
the ryder truck?
the parking garage?
the princess that didn't even feel the pea?
remember joking around in our apartment on avenue D?

can you imagine how many paper coffee cups would have to change their design
following a fantastical reversal of the new york skyline?!

it was a joke, of course
it was a joke
at the time
and that was just a few years ago
so let the record show
that the FBI was all over that case
that the plot was obvious and in everybody's face
and scoping that scene
the CIA
or is it KGB?
committing countless crimes against humanity
with this kind of eventuality
as its excuse
for abuse after expensive abuse
and it didn't have a clue
look, another window to see through
way up here
on the 104th floor
another key
another door
10% literal
90% metaphor
3000 some poems disguised as people
on an almost too perfect day
should be more than pawns
in some asshole's passion play
so now it's your job
and it's my job
to make it that way
to make sure they didn't die in vain
baby listen
hear the train?
-Ani DiFranco
I am currently Disillusioned

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04/07/2002 07:29 p.m.
This was written by Mike Paulus, a really cool local gentleman. It's fucking cool.

As it's National Poetry Month, I thought I'd use the email to spout off on today's poetry scene in general. I've had quite a few conversations in the past few months concerning the current state of poetry in America--which I, of course, know everything about--and I've come to a few conclusions.

People do a lot of complaining about the publishing industry and their basic rape of the reading public. The industry publishes titanic piles of best sellers and nothing else. They publish authors approved by focus groups full of consumers with little concern for artistic anything, stuffing the shelves of castle-tall books and music stores with what will make them money. Poetry and drama and comic books are tossed onto whatever shelf space is left in the back. Writers and readers complain about this at every level of the economic, social, and hipster spectrums. And, quite obviously, they're right. They sit around in bars and coffee shops, on couches and lawn chairs trying to figure out what might help. They ask "What collection of poetry could break through this horrible barrier? What possible combination of writers can we package together so people will buy it? What color could we possibly paint this animal as to be taken in by the herd? Did you see the last New Yorker? There's a fabulous cartoon on page 20. Honestly, how can we get people to buy poetry?" Well people, I have the answer to these and many other questions. It's all very simple if you remember one little thing these people have forgotten:

People don't buy things they don't want. And most people do not want to read poetry.

The shear elegance in these words astounds even myself. So am I saying we should give up and let the rest of tiny presses and micropublishers finally die off? Should we tell them "Nice try. What you did was terrific but times, they have-a-changed." Of course not, you silly goose.

If you really give a shit about rebuilding this country's poetic architecture, quit talking about the publishing industry. Like America's War on Drugs, it's obscene, bloated, corrupt, stupid, completely unwilling to admit its mistakes, and unable to see past it's own paranoia. It can't be reasoned with. Besides, contrary to popular opinion, the correct marketing equation cannot get people to buy a book of words they don't care about, written in a way they don't like. So even if Random House switched %25 of their business to producing huge piles of poetry, so what? Who's gonna buy it? Hell, all of those crappy best sellers are still better than TV, so why stop them? No, no, no. If you want to see more poetry in America forget the big publishers (but support the little guys), forget the poets (there's a never-ending supply), and focus on the goddamn people. Do it not like you're a writer, not like you're an activist, but like you're someone having a conversation with someone else in a bar and you're talking about something mildly to highly interesting.

Why is poetry so important in the first place? Ask yourself that question, find an answer, and that's what the people need to know. Why is it better than Tom Clancy? Why is it better than Oprah? Why isn't anything better than Ezra? Go figure it out and go talk to people. Saying you like poetry is like saying you like music. So what? What KIND of music do you like? Poetry has the same amount of variation so you need to be more specific--what value does it have? And don't get too poetic when you talk to people about it. People need to realize that poetry isn't this cryptic corner of the book store. It's not what they think it is. Just like jazz really isn't a musician's music, poetry is not written for poets alone.

Oh, and go to the library because they have lots of poetry there.

I am currently Sweet

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