the place in 
which i’ll fit
will not exist
until i make it

- james baldwin


James Baldwin, Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone

Los Angeles blue. Los Angeles blue.
Stress by Yoan Capote
“I’ve got a
lot of good
ideas but not
one that
will get me
— Eileen Myles (via wordsfirst)

The Suitor — Jane Kenyon

We lie back to back. Curtains
lift and fall,
like the chest of someone sleeping. 
Wind moves the leaves of the box elder; 
they show their light undersides,
turning all at once
like a school of fish. 
Suddenly I understand that I am happy. 
For months this feeling 
has been coming closer, stopping
for short visits, like a timid suitor. 


Frank O’Hara passed away 48 years ago today. Here is something to make all of us miss him.

PRESENT  (hear him read it here)

The stranded gulch
below Grand Central
the gentle purr of cab tires in snow
and hidden stars
tears on the windshield
torn inexorably away in whining motion
and the dark thoughts which surround neon

in Union Square I see you for a moment
red green yellow searchlights cutting through
falling flakes, head bent to the wind
wet and frowning, melancholy, trying

I know perfectly well where you walk to
and that we’ll meet in even greater darkness
later and will be warm.

so our cross
of paths will not be just muddy footprints
in the morning

not like celestial bodies’
yearly passes, nothing pushes us away
from each other

even now I can lean
forward across the square and see
your surprised grey look become greener
as I wipe the city’s moisture from
your face

and you shake the snow
off onto my shoulder, light as a breath
where the quarrels and vices of
estranged companions weighed so bitterly
and accidentally

before, I saw you on
the floor of my life walking slowly
that time in summer rain stranger and

to become a way of feeling
that is not painful casual or diffuse
and seems to explore some peculiar insight
of the heavens for its favorite bodies
in the mixed-up air

There’s a creative intelligence and “space” around your perfumes. Can you explain how you build the architecture of a perfume?
The architecture of perfume starts from the moment it’s sprayed and begins to evaporate. I imagine filling a space determined by the weight of the ingredients, their force or lightness. All this to form a balance between heavy and light, complex and simple, light and shadow. And it’s this equilibrium, this harmony, that will create the worst or the best! Certain perfumes unfurl image by image, each accord disappears to leave room for the next until you reach its heart. Others are round, compact. Their notes evaporate almost at the same rate. They’re linear from one end to the other.

What scents or places or experiences provide your own triggers? 
I’m inspired by odors that touch me, that shock me, that make me nostalgic, that remind me of other people, other places. Inspiration is everywhere—the smells of childhood, of life. A blinding white shirt in full sun, an Indian dance, steaming rice, bewitching incense drifting through a Malaysian temple. Ten years later, that incense inspired L’Ether de IUNX. To me, incense evokes uplifting prayer; it’s pure, profound, intoxicating. I like everything that burns: wood, resins, dried leaves, hot ashes, barbeques, the smell of earth and sun-warmed herbs.

Like a vocabulary of emotions, perfume becomes a living language for me. Educating one’s sense of smell means becoming more aware, looking at things differently, pausing where others hurry past. I write down my impressions and keep everything I come across in my travels. In Mali, I broke the bark of a yellow wood that tasted of quince, collected cooked seeds, burned rope; in Japan, I found soft rubber that smelled of Christmas and a neon pink ribbon that smelled like dolls; in Mexico, driftwood, fresh cactus and black corn. Large cities are kaleidoscopes of odors. Istanbul smells of roses and dust, New York of laundry fumes and cinnamon. Paris is electric heaters, fresh bread and wet sidewalks. Katmandu is dry woods and cucumber. Tokyo is grilled food, metal and plastic.

Olivia Giacobetti, the nose behind Diptyque’s Philosykos and many of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s greatest - on scents, memories and process.

“I guess you get to a point where you look at that pain as if it were there in front of you three feet away lying in a box, an open box, in a window somewhere. It’s hard and cold, like a bar of metal. You just look at it there and say, All right, I’ll take it, I’ll buy it. That’s what it is. Because you know all about it before you even go into this thing. You know the pain is part of the whole thing. And it isn’t that you can say afterwards the pleasure was greater than the pain and that’s why you would do it again. That has nothing to do with it. You can’t measure it, because the pain comes after and lasts longer. So the question really is, Why doesn’t that pain make you say, I won’t do it again? When the pain is so bad that you have to say that, but you don’t.”
Lydia Davis, from Break it Down (via litafficionado)

(via kdecember)

“Andy Warhol kept what he called a “smell collection,” switching perfumes every three months so he could reminisce more lucidly on those months whenever he smelled that period’s particular scent.”
All You Have Eaten, by Rachel Khong (via theepitomeofquiet)

(via nogreatillusion)

“I hope you all find yourselves sleeping with someone you love, maybe not all of the time, but a lot of the time. The touch of a foot in the night is sincere. I hope you like your work, I hope there’s mystery and poetry in your life — not even poems, but patterns. I hope you can see them. Often these patterns will wake you up, and you will know that you are alive, again and again.”
— Eileen Myles, “Universal Cycle.” The Importance of Being Iceland. (via winesburgohio)

14 Lines From Love Letters Or Suicide Notes - David ‘Doc’ Luben

1. Don’t freak out.

2. We both know this has been coming for a long time.

3. I have been staying awake at nights, wondering if I should tell you.

4. I bought the kind of crackers you like. They are in the hall cupboard.

5. Now that we have watched all the episodes of True Blood, I do not know what else to do next.

6. I have just been too afraid for too long.

7. This is the kind of thing where waiting for the time to be right would just mean waiting forever; it’s the kind of thing no one else can help you decide.

8. I came home on Thursday and found all of the chairs in the house stacked in a pile in the center of my kitchen; I don’t know how long they have been like that, but it must have been me that did it. It is the kind of thing a ghost might do, to prove to the living he is still there. I am haunting my own apartment.

9. My grandmother was still alive when I was five years old and she told me to check if the iron was hot enough yet, so I pressed my hand against it, and it was red and screaming for hours. Twenty five years later she would still sometimes apologize, in the middle of conversations, I feel so bad about making you touch the iron, she would say, as though it had just happened. I cannot imagine how we forgive ourselves for all of the things we didn’t say until it was too late. But how else do you tell if something is hot but to touch it?

10. I imagine my furniture in your apartment.  

11. I wonder how many likes it will get on facebook.

12. My dad always used to tell the same joke, but I can’t remember the punch line.

13. I was eight years old and it took three weeks (three eight year old weeks—- imagine) to gather everything I needed to be Batman. Rope, boomerangs, a mardi gras mask with the beads cut off. I couldn’t find a cave near my house, so I buried them all in a bundle under the ivy. For years after,

I tried to find that spot again.

          The ivy grew too fast.

              I searched in so many spots

it seemed impossible I had missed any.

But I never found it.

How can something be there

       and then just not be there?

         How do we forgive ourselves

             for all the things we did not become?

14. I was never bold enough to buy bright green sheets. I wanted them, but always thought they were too brash, even with no one but me to see them. I bought a set yesterday and put them on the bed. I knew that you would like them.


Excerpt from the new issue: Tracy Wan on Boyhood:

"It’s a big element, isn’t it, of our medium?" Linklater asks, in an interview with Sight & Sound. “The manipulation of time, the perception of time, the control of time.” And if cinema is the art of time, he is a master of the art—from his fictional histories emerge a truth beyond the medium, that of experiencing life’s passing itself. If the Before trilogy is a microcosmic representation of his obsession (three days, 18 years apart), we can only look at Boyhood as the Linklater macrocosm: 12 years, in three hours. It is filled with what he does best—documentations of life in suburbia, streams of consciousness, revelations of personal philosophies. 

Here, what he captures is not the story of a boy growing up, but boyhood as identity: the edification of one small American dream. We learn about Mason as he learns about himself—in time. He, unsurprisingly, is just as obsessed with the concept—we watch Mason pick up photography as a hobby, and then as a major. There is no pretension: his photographs aren’t revelatory, just a product of his attention. And the same can be said for Boyhood. Its smallness is its charm. At ten, Mason asks his Dad: “There’s no such thing as real magic in the world, right?” And then, at nineteen, watching the sun duck behind canyons in the Big Bend, we see that he gets it. The magic is the world. It is here now, and now, and now.”

To read the rest of this essay, download the Bright Wall/Dark Room app to your iPhone or iPad for free, or subscribe online for $2 per month to receive immediate access to the entire issue.

If the language of perfume is in past tense, then perfume is a ghost: a bodiless presence impressing upon us nostalgia for a previous life——that of the flowers in the field, the finger in the cunt. But as it dies, it lives: evolving, decaying, and fading as we experience it. Pay attention, it says. Soon, I will be gone. Perfume’s ephemerality is its greatest appeal, the same way secrets can only exist if there is a listener. If right on our bodies, it is all we want to bury ourselves in. If on the right body, all perfume is sex, and we dig into the pleasure with our nails.

I wrote about smells and sex, and smelly sex.