LYMEN: Dispatch Two // Of Portland Poetry & Much-Needed Departures

Posted by @ 9:27 pm on October 23rd, 2013


(( Continuing from here … ))

THE END OF Portland had me in a coatroom under the stairs in my drug dealer’s house, woken every morning by terrible music, passed out nights holding a beer that would spill and soak my clothes and the bedding wadded on the plastic mat I slept on. I was tempted for my own amusement to read this as a condensation of my entire tenure in the city, tho to reduce my time to anything so emblematic would be an exercise in pointlessness.

The closer I got to my day of departure, the more I hated it there. Nevertheless I continued to attend the readings and socials that helped build the rancor I daily banged against.

Ogygia : : : long in need of true critique, a place grown fond of its reputation as pleasure island promised land, and suddenly crowded with poets in a downright Savage Detectives-style way, as tho it had never occurred to anyone to start a band, that *this* was the thing instead; an ongoing, obsessively polite dinner party during which the attendees occasionally excuse themselves to fuck in the bathroom. The main thing is to show up. To be seen wearing clothes. To be in the room with these specific people each week.

Ogygia, with its pervasive culture of DIY craft, has spawned one cottage industry after another. Poetry is no exception.


That shit is small curd tho, producing a standard of work as forgettable as it is enjoyable, filling out a form that shirks the importance of content in lieu of its value as a means of social exchange. A new chapbook series concocted to showcase its website.

In this frame I came to feel that my presence itself meant dissent, obliging as I was the need for at least one such voice in the rabble. Hangman and sin-eater, screen and repository for the othering projections flung from a cuddle party ecosystem that rejects abjection in favor of the approval of white people peers and the rewards of resultant complacency.

Having no doubt gained a page for itself in the future annals of literary history, there is hope enough for Portland poetry. Tho not without teeth, without blowback or fallout. Above all not without risk.

Perhaps one day we’ll see it.

: : : : :

Beyond Ogygian city limits, I already feel much better. I’m on my way to Seattle, to spend a few days with Tyann. This is the best possible way for me to leave the region — departing not from Portland itself, but instead from a waystation, true to life in the Lymen.

Tyann had gotten out about a year earlier. Although we talk frequently, it’s nice to finally see in-person what new life she’s made for herself. Being on my way to starting over, I find this inspiring.

We meet up with Rauan and go to a diner. We talk some about this post, what it may or may not become. I tell about miners trying to ascend from a funnel they’ve dug deep in the earth, their efforts to bring their payload of stones to the surface continually thwarted by the siren song produced when the wind blows through the spiral and the miners hurl themselves back down. This is how I’ve come to feel about Portland, I say. As far as writing about it, I barely want to pay it the compliment of looking back long enough to lay waste.


In imagination I build a gyre of my own, a kind of huge, whirling garbage disposal. Standing on the cliff above, I hurl my PDX thoughts into its abyss as quick as they develop.

I’m preparing myself for what will wind up being a sixty hour bus ride to Las Cruces, New Mexico. I’m nervous and excited. I don’t know what to expect.

: : : : :

At the end of September, I was originally slated to perform at an event I’d helped organize called Detour/Dérive. The idea was, each participant takes a bus on a line with which they’re unfamiliar, getting off at a stop or stops they find intriguing. The task was “to walk, document/record, and reflect … to explore, project, and/or (mis)interpret narratives of the city that do not occur to us as critical to the urban landscape.”

I was to be en route while this event was taking place. I recorded the following video, but due to technical difficulties it was not presented.

So instead it finds its home here, poised between two thresholds.