Saturday, February 05, 2011

Death By Habit

Rachel Leibrock and friend

—Rachel Leibrock, Sacramento

Today I saw my future flash across the face of a Korean girl crossing against 14th Avenue
Caramel skin, a teardrop face and heart-shaped hips that fell into thin, bird-flying legs

     Engine idling I
     Watched from behind the cold,
     Hard, thick safety glass

And imagined wearing her youth like a swinging cape of glossy black hair and cool indifference. Fleet footed beneath a knapsack filled with heavy books of information.

     Or perhaps that bag
     Carried only a
     Sweater for the chill

Intent, I plotted a kidnapping, to whisk her miles and miles away on the map
So that you would, could not ever meet her while traveling down 14th Avenue

     And recognize your
     Escape hatch chance for days and

     Nights long beyond me.

But, red light green light, she refuses eye contact, only fleeing to reach the curb
Caramel skin, a teardrop face and heart-shaped hips falling into thin, bird-flying legs


Thanks, Rachel! Rachel Leibrock is a Texas-born writer living in California. In addition to writing about arts and culture for the Sacramento News & Review, she also writes prose, poetry and fiction and is currently working on a young adult novel set in Sacramento. You can find some of her work at and Rattlesnake Press will be releasing a littlesnake broadside, Ascension, from Rachel this Weds. night, 7:30pm, at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento.

Thanks to Jason Tse, too, for the rest of today's poems, and to D.R. Wagner for finding the LittleNip.


—Rachel Leibrock

I am going to kill myself
Not in a suicide kind of way: slit wrists, bitter, chalky pills
Rope burned neck, a single gunshot beneath the chin.

No, this is death by habit and routine

Unbrushed teeth at 3 am, going straight to sleep.
Another whiskey sour, a cigarette just between friends.

A baker’s dozen of cookies, cupcakes, sweet doughy fragrant

Sugar coating my tongue

Grease swimming in my veins, until guilty, I reverse the process into

Starvation, eaten up with shame.

Revving the engine, fast, faster, fastest, I feel fine
Windows down, wind blowing across my cheeks, whistling between my teeth.

Or, racing on foot — always late — tumbling into myself, tripping

I am going to kill myself

Hello gum disease, heart disease, soaked liver, blackened lung, bloated body overthrown, twisted metal, bloodied bruises, broken bones, fractured

Falling. Apart

And fumbling towards destruction

I am going to kill myself.

Death by habit.

From the outside in

Fleshy bit by bit

And then, atom by atom.


—Jason Tse, Davis

Nothing but a figure behind a misted mirror
Polished to my revelation
Showing me your other side.
Do you understand the backward messages
That I write to you?
Or do you still recognize me?

Tilted to that appeasing angle of light
Giving me your full figure
Shameless of pride.
Can you understand these reversed letters
That I draw for your sake?
Albeit, my view is not absolute.

More of a rosy shade of glass
Do our worlds reflect
These dices of our devices?
Silent as I am on the other side
You claim my silhouette
But it’s truly funny …

For I always stare at the mirror
In the darkest pitch of black.


—Jason Tse

Please don't cry in your dreams
Don't hide your tears
There's no need to be scared
Your life of loneliness will be cured

Let it out with each heartbeat
Let it clutch to the dying starlight

Please smile when I am near
I may not answer
But I will search your eyes
And I'll meet you halfway

Let it out with each heartbeat
Let it grasp the early dawning

And wake up next to me


—Jason Tse

Another cross sewn
the marionette's eyes
shut in its peaceful slumber
the poor seamstress.

See how it turns the gears
of the hands underneath
the old carousel aisles
unwinding the pocketwatch spring.

Under a painted moon
of the lid of a music box
the lambs of the spindle
bounds over the gates of rest.

Some of the unseen antics inside
were meant to be hidden
behind the sepia fogged glass
of this sleepy antique store ... open.


 —Jason Tse

Forgotten verses fill the frost-snapped branches
In between the passing
Of footsteps treading underneath,
Of the strokes of painted dashes above,
And the still amber blood
Alive in the slumbering veins.

Over the peaks of a breeze
The faint scent lingers
Mixing its color onto a passerby's palette

The hue of persimmons
With the warmth of a maple glow.

While the world laments the pale sleeping beauty,
I anticipate the return of those hazel eyes.


—Jason Tse

Blue and green LEDs light up my room at night.
They don’t move nor flicker the slightest,
They stare at the stucco walls with me
Counting the ambiguous flock of sheep
As they hum their monotone lullaby.


—Jason Tse

Living under the pace of a blue moon
Beat per beat, against the pounding mochi
As Mr. Hare gets ready for the morning market.
Spared to the expense of a certain Hatter,
The planet Mercury and to Alice, Venus,
Where all goddesses lie, ambrosial,
Awaiting the sale on Wonderland’s nectar.


Today's LittleNip: 

If I have included visibility in my list of values to be saved, it is to give warning of the danger we run losing a basic human faculty: the power of bringing visions into focus with our eyes shut, of bringing forth forms and colors from the lines of black letters on a white page, and in fact of 'thinking' in terms of images.

—Italo Calvino


—Medusa (who will be taking a wee birthday mini-break; no posting tomorrow. She and the Snake Man will be off to the sea; we'll return Monday with tales of sailing ships and salt air. If you look carefully in Katy's photo below, you'll be able to see us through the window...)

Darling House window, Santa Cruz
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis