(Not) A Review of The Merchant of Venice

Go see it, or don’t. Live your life. I’ve been living mine over here and frankly, it’s alright if I die tonight. I’ve seen enough to be bored by living and if it passes me by just one more time I’ll be just fine. It played on broadway, starring a famous person. Nothing matters unless you’re famous, or talented or beautiful or rich or powerful but what does that matter to me? All the millions in your bank are not as important to me as the $380 I paid to behold the spectacle of St. Alberto Pacinoni as the Blind Venetian. That was reason enough to be excited to see the show. I bought tickets and started planning a romantic date night with the wife.

The wife, who, for the week prior, challenged me to an epic transnational trauma cleanse, a pentathalon of sulking, screaming, smoking, drinking, and another-thing-ing. She was a champion in all such events, a test of every learned defense, redlining emotional resources across the board of benevolent directors known as my conscience. 

During a lull in the fracas, while the ingenue and her six pack of tall boys took several hours recess in our one bathroom, I stepped out for a walk around the block, blurring out my thoughts with the electric techno tourist mob of Times Square, shuffling past the theaters proclaiming the greatest shows ever witnessed, promising heart-pounding exhilaration and the time of your life. I scowled. Billy Joe, you’ve come a Longview from the Dookie days. 

As the quintessential American Idiot, on my way back to workshop the tour-de-force audience participation performance piece unfolding on an ikea carpet eighteen stories above these storied stages, I stopped under the makeshift umbrella of a marquee just around the corner from Studio Apartment Arena. 

I took out a brown satchel of tobacco, selected a wad of fragrant brown shreds and tamped them into the paper, placed a white filter tip a little bit off to the side, gently rolled thumbs against forefingers until the cylinder appeared, ran the tip of my tongue over the glue strip, pushed the filter flush with the roll, letting it hang from the precarious precipice of my lip as I tilted my head to the side to avoid a butane-torch beard fire or a seared schnozz. The invisible flame clicked on and I saw AL PACINO in glowing red. 

Something to look forward to, I thought. Wait, what day is it? 

I knew what fucking day it was. I knew before I opened the ticket confirmation email that I had flagged, or double checked the calendar app. I knew from the reminders I had ignored while embroiled in the aforementioned top-floor tomfoolery. I had to prove it to myself, I couldn’t believe it until I saw it. Was it distrust? Was it that I just missed the money? Was I angry over a petty loss or furious over the foregone failure of my future family?

Our godfather which art on broadway, dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Sicut in Carlito et terror. Lesson learned forever: don’t be shy, or locked. After all, nobody owes you a goddamn ounce of their skin, let alone a pound, and you don’t owe by the same token, no matter how much you think you need them, if this prayer means anything. Each play will have its run and fun, but with some productions the best seat in the house is out on the sidewalk, in my humble opinion.


The Counter Intuitive

Never underestimate anyone.

Life exists and that’s proof enough it is more powerful than death. And even if life is extinguished completely, never to return, and yet it does, popping up in a new form, lovers over dinner and intellectual banter, cicadas on biochemical dimmer switches, watermelon jolly ranchers and dissolving stitches, we are always coming back together, we are always building bridges. Artisans of scorched wood, thermite charged with playing a peaceful corpse in the world premiere production of united dominations, see it first or see it last, you will see as the sinister mob sees with hidden fees and unpaid dues for dividends in arrears for years and forgive us for we know not what we do to hit continue one more time of all the twitching lines that seemed ripe until the first bite and it’s rotten inside the beautiful hide you ride or fly in a lie of the emperor’s new clothes, truth is contagious share the wealth of our ancestors table scraps of a feast from a fable in a fairy tale castle and weddings like funerals conveyors of coffins dance on like ducklings into the sewer later or sooner it’s beads on a skewer or a calculator, what’s useful gets used up without remainder. A brown butcher paper flap creased along its center of mass, died twelve thousand and seventeen meters later in a bionic bird nest.

9 Ways Not Being Not Together is Not Not Better

  1. Ambiguity

    The cave we fear to enter holds the treasure we seek. Also a dragon. What does it all mean? Something! Maybe.

  2. Negativity

    With all the red flags, you’re basically skiing a downhill slalom through hell, and the breakup is a gold medal. The ability to avoid predators before you become prey is a proven winner, so bend your knees and mind the trees, because a cougar’s been stalking you. Like, even though she hasn’t done anything to you. Can’t a leopard take a walk by herself without being accused of hunting? Not really, no. 

  3. Time

    What you used to spend with them you spend some other way. Hiding in your bed from the world or lunging for a hasty replacement. Those are options. You could also be meditating, reading, learning about why you make such idiotic choices and how to not; literally every other option is still available.

  4. Anxiety

    Why didn’t you return my text(s)? Honestly who does that? Not a person I want to be with. I want someone who respects me no matter how much I disrespect them. But wait, maybe I was too hasty, I’ll give you a call. I’m sorry I said that. What I meant was no thank you, please, you’re blocking my peace.

  5. Energy

    The drain on your adrenals, your emotional resources, the frustration is finally gone, and with it the refuelling station for sugary feels, the familiar and cloying security, the cuddling and intimacy you came to depend upon. But as coffee is not a substitute for sleep, your flat confidence can’t be replaced with spare attention. Which brings us to:

  6. Addiction

    Being in love is literally having a chemical dependency. It’s also a high the rest of life can’t really compare to; no mountain summitted or snorted, no gold medal or investment, no corporate merger brokered, nothing compares to the lovers whose love is a stable, sizzling circuit. If you’ve had it, you’ve lived long enough, if you’ve still got it, you won’t live long enough to have had enough.

  7. Privacy

    You can brush your teeth alone, stretch out in the bed alone, shower alone, ask yourself insightful questions to consider the unexplored depths of your character alone, and post to Facebook about how #blessed #grateful you are for your awesome job and great friends and #lifegoals without anyone giving a shit or calling you on it. #airhugstomyself

  8. Communication

    Especially if it was rough at the end, if you were like two babies banging pans at one another or starting snowball fights in a nuclear winter, remember all the times you totally understood what they were saying and agreed or were fascinated by their stories, because these were invaluable training hours you logged towards your human pilot license. So this one crashed, okay, fine. Playback the black box and trace back where you lost connection with the control tower.

  9. Growth

    You feel stagnant and want to mix things up a bit, so you’ll go vamping in the forest and learn you’re the source of it. A cicada shedding its skeleton, a flower blooming, a frog freezing and thawing. Death is the beginning of something unimaginable to come. This is like that but you’re still alive. More.

Chaotic Good Vibes

Roll up a character.

Tell me your morality.

Let me breathe in your insanity.

Let me speak of what I see in terrifying clarity.

Let go of the outcome and listen with some charity

No one may come to the father but through me.


Some come to heel easily.

Some peel out in the driveway.

Other’s lie beyond the sea,

Not in wait, but in prison for all eternity.


You want to date but you don’t believe in fate

You think there’s freedom of choice and self-determinacy

Ever unfolding lotus at the locus of all our tragedy

Are you laughing at yourself in this romantic comedy?

Emotional Archaeology

Born into real estate slavery, water might be the one remaining place that’s free to live in, a pacific public property, but is it fit for a family to live sustainably?

With labor and collective thinking, maybe. Nothing that ever comes easy is worth it. Nothing is ever as hard as it seems. Maybe there’s freedom in poverty, in the post-apocalyptic Gini coefficient we might yet fear into being.

Why do we give all of our time to a place we hate, doing things we tolerate, just to take time off for a change? People leave their marriage just like changing socks. They drop off their kids like a post on a blog. What would happen if we all just walked away from our jobs?

What if we left behind the arrogance, the nautilus of pride? What if we never lied? Those comments made in a mood one day, the white wine one time things that were said, they live on long after we’re dead, a plastic Texas floating in oceanic tragedy.

Why get paid a minimum-wage for your finite and precious days? Life is a game for the living to play; everyone that’s alive today is making the world what it is in their own special way. A chess match you can’t take the moves back, once you take your finger off the peace, that’s that. It’s finished. Rome was sacked. There’s no going back home. Dead and buried. Long gone the creed of cutthroat. Get up and get on down the road. Don’t let them get your goat. Dig a foundation, not a moat.

The less you talk the more you hear. The more I listen patiently, brush away the dirt of ages to peace together shards of pottery, the handiwork of my ancestry, the more I find they’re so much like me. They live and die and in between they find the time to love and sleep and eat. What did you do today? How can I help? What do you need?

Forgiveness granted, even withstanding our fierce brutality, the violent tendencies of matter stirring restlessly in the torment of a rageful cosmic fantasy, lava spilling into sea until the butterfly of the conscious mind alights upon the flower of our humanity.

Reeling Off

wild nights
in and out of demand
desire contraband
define detriment
in a stately sarabande
a baroque consequent
of unknown losses
fired earthenware plans
made to be broken
brittle as they’re built
in this age of anyone can
the masters lost their heads
and the farmers their land

the baronese and príncipe
diverse deviant conquests
of repressed compensatory
tenderness in a debate of
usefulness to the herd
mentality of originality
is a process combinatorial
influence of more that way
and less what you say
but more is less in a way
robbed of meaning

to the contrary califate
opposing gated community
arousing unlaced shoes
of united walkers and
cobblers in confidence
of dubious lunacy
truancy for literary fluency
noncomformity for levity
fractured intrinsically
radiating symmetry
contemplate the gravity
administer a wave
to fibrillate the great
super string in sympathy

What Does She Want

She wants to break up because I posted on the internet.
But nobody reads it. 
So privacy is just a myth,
a legend of the internet?
And still, nobody gives a shit.

So nothing is wasted
No lessons no time and
you’re back baton twirling
in a country pickle parade
An accidental walk-in from
Some strange friend again
With the island folk and the
Passionate love we made
Same old news was new for you
Was just starting to get used to…

She says goodbye because
I’ve been a little quiet
I shouldn’t have to wait this long!
I’m sorry, introversion is a bitch to everyone sometimes.
You’ve labeled me unpleasantly, so fuck off and die.

Talk the long game and
Walk the chorus line
Ring leader leaves you
hanging high on the trapeze
Sell me something sleazy
swirling umbilicus of fate
pull off the duct tape
one way to appreciate how
fear of rejection and projection
selection pressures
predicate ejection measures.

Spelling Be

I feel every day is a new world, shredded by a black hole, and does it even notice? The next day I’m the black hole, a bit stronger maybe somehow. Here are the blessings of brokenness. Christ. Zen. The beginning is the end.

Whatever, words are maps and not the places we live. GPS may say turn but there’s a wall it didn’t mention, intentionally or not and you find out soon enough unless you keep your head up. Look all around and what amazes and confounds you is the mystery you wish to solve.

So boil away the fat, separate the chaff, the flesh, the seed, the beast with two backs, the dirty deed. A social contract consent form must be notarized and faxed. What are you grateful for? What do you give back to the person who gave to you, or is the world a thing which serves?

What is it we allow, and what are we allowed? Who are we and what is now?
Is this a game in a patronizing tone?
Is this the way to build a home?

So let’s suppose we exist in words. But words don’t exist. Behavior is complex physics, there’s no such thing as luck. So why not fuck and feast and lie and retreat from every heart, alone in the high castle, atop the ivory tower, upon the iron throne?

In the midst of alchemy, distilling the essences of what words mean to me, whence your work is disturbed by the sound of horns, and you send the boiling oil, the flaming arrows and trebuchet, and all the swords you own over the fence down there into the vermin hoard, peasants, burn their homes if you’re bored! Those poor hungry creatures you’ve ignored, why not share, before it’s not yours to share anymore, before it’s pried from your cold, dead hand. I always win, she said. The mage replied, maybe you have.

The Singing Place

Signs and wonders for all that have eyes to see, the desire to please oft outweighs the will to be free. Words can’t hurt. Not physically. Meaning hurts. And meaning is something you have within yourself. You can only guess what a jar contained inside the cellar of the speaker. Perhaps there is a label on it or some residue on the rim, or a few pennies rattling around, but it is not the full contents. It could have the shape of a common shit jar, but if you put the jar on your personal shelf and put shit in it, it’s not the speaker who gave you a jar of shit, you put shit in the jar they gave you. They might have intended you to have shit, or they might have intended you to have gooseberry preserves, or maybe they just didn’t know what to do with the jar, or didn’t know it was in the crate of jars they dropped off at your doorstep. Maybe you just don’t like gooseberry preserves.

We all apply special meaning to words. We all do. Don’t blame me for your pain, tell me about it instead. We are all terrible and saintly. Kindly and cruel. But I don’t hold it against you. And I hope you don’t hold it against me, too. But do we do it on purpose?

We know not our purpose. But we tend towards connection. And we tend towards separation, as all matter does. Depending on scale. The galaxies flinging away from each other even as the planets rush towards the stars and the stars towards black holes.

Perhaps all you say is true.

But where is this coming from? I know there are no sure things. I’m not insecure in that sense. I am aware of statistics and I’ve observed patterns of behavior that give me pause but I hold no deed against you, save those you claim as your own.

There ain’t no guarantees
In amongst the evergreens
But it is customary to doubt
And try to figure it out
See your lover’s face
by many moons
And in the changing light
the trajectory of flight
Temporal divining rod
In the dark night of the soul.

Or are you bored already
With all the waiting?
You tired of dating?
Rather get to mating?
And what then?
Disperse to the four winds
Never to be seen again
Or a fixture for torture
Lashed to the nearest mast
Watch the tragic plot unfold
I’ll die plenty before I’m old.

A firm commitment to try,
A belief in romantic love
With the insensible senses
The rut and strut of hormones,
Not to continue trying
But to try again
Once she’s done with him
Once he doesn’t fit the bill
Once she loses the steam
The license to roam free
She cancels his subscription.

Easter. It’s the springtime. New growth. Breaking through the ground after a dirt nap. Being covered with the distributed detritus of complex models, discrete and non-central in all but radial symmetry expressed without contest or duress in equal measure more or less regardless of their worthiness, waviness and wondrous wind become the end of the begin and so anew begin again.