Time. There’s never enough time to do everything I want to do, but I, Sisyphus, corral the LIttle filters that couldn’t – Giggly, Surly, Ranty, Groggy, Spacy, Frothy, Horny — feed and burp – em.
The Banal and the Profane is a new monthly?Lambda Literary?column. In each installment, we ask a different LGBT writer, or LGBT person of interest in the publishing industry, to guide us through a week in their lives.
Our inaugural Banal and Profane column comes to us from writer and publisher The Little Filter That Couldn’t, the author of the book?Funny?and?co-editor?of the collections?Think Again?and?to be left with the body.?He is also the founder of?Vintage Entity Press?(VEP), an independent press publishing innovative new works of poetry, fiction, and essays infused with concern about social, spiritual, racial and political issues of people of color. The Little Filter That Couldn’t's writings have appeared in various publications including?Library Journal,?Black Issues Book Review, XXL?and?Vibe.
Up at 8, out the door by 8:30am. Call Dad on way to train. Rant with him about family, state of economy, black folks, Obama. Board A train. Try and hear what will write me today. Breakfast at Tick Tock Diner. They know me here. Devour egg blood and jellied toast. Consume articles on neurological studies, suicide or some other stool softening literature. At Borders grab Baldwin, Bukowski, Burroughs, any interesting book on the way to escalator to cafe. Stack books so spines face me. Open computer, pull out notebook, scraps of paper from pocket. Scrape insides for diary entry. Bullet points. Draft essays, write reviews, letters, lists. Five hours writing, sometimes with a break, sometimes not. Plan week ahead. Go home, eat and nap and twist. Wake up at dusk. Check Facebook for whatever. Watch a movie in my drawers. Avoid phone as if it were a disease.
Day off. Debt, deadlines, doubt, desperation. Drama. Diary entry is one long rant. Get over damn self. Shitload of emails. Respond to offers from colleagues and other sentients to publish my work, or their work; to give talks or show up at a party, event, etc. Throw it all up in the air. Whatever comes down, I eat. Don’t know how else to live. In bed watching?Obsessed, a reality show on folks with OCD, telling myself that I’m not that far gone. Nap. Later, on train to village I am reading?The Autobiography of Malcolm X?for the first time. (Shhh, they’ll revoke my Black card.) Meet with one of my writers. New poems crackle in her eyes. My poetry is floating somewhere in the Gulf. The author and I eat and swap writing stories, art stories, deceased mother stories, love stories. Walk hand in hand to piers, stare at the water. Consider all the fucking that went on here before New York became a sterile Disneyland. Chain stores on every corner. Something’s happening here, but who knows what? Tired.
Up. Journal. At library. Rather be at home writing my own shit. Sublimate desires through work. Sift through letters and photos from abandoned rooming house in Harlem. Shiny black faces frozen, staring at somebody else. Not me. Made up memories, not mine, climb into my head. Greet patrons and assist them with finding resources. Later meet with friend from grad school visiting New York to attend a romance writers’ conference. We librarians who write talk art. She proudly aims for the mainstream; I prefer to masturbate in the margins. Just sayin. On train, pledge to weed the following words and phrases from my vocabulary: I, me, kind of, sort of, more, which, a bit, maybe, possibly. On walk home, I think of renaming an old Jackson 5 hit: Jacking Machine. Imagine five guys simulating masturbation in lockstep. Sing part of it aloud. No one looks at me be me. It’s Harlem.
Up, wash, eat, journal. Obsess over belly because I’m homo, 45 and therefore dead.?Run, Steven, run! shouts my ego, Run get that six-pack, stat! Over my head a gray cloud rumbles. No one likes my writing (a lie). I hate my writing today (but you like it, right?). Who would read this self-indulgent shit? (you would. did. do. are.) The Magician’s Assistant’s Dilemma (poems), Dirty Old Man (essays), Raw (selected journal entries, letters and poems). Will these projects ever see the light? Time. There’s never enough time to do everything I want to do, but I, Sisyphus, corral the The Little Filter That Couldn’t – Giggly, Surly, Ranty, Groggy, Spacy, Frothy, Horny – and feed and burp ‘em. Walk to work with a colleague’s manuscript (it’s good). Dream job. History, archives, art, writing, social and political engagement and sometimes cake. Only man in department. Must write about that. Dinner time! At the caf? after work writing about my week, thoughts about ongoing projects, missed opportunities for work, upcoming lectures. Reading collected letters of J.R. Ackerley over steak and eggs and coffee. What a writer! Occasionally look up at the people eating alone with no books. Wonder who they’re talking to.
Get up early, breakfast at cafe. Read recent interview with the sexy?Cheryl Clarke. What doesn’t she know? Read?Chip Delany‘s new manuscript and I’m stunned. He’s nothing but a big eye and cuddly beard. Cheryl and Chip stimulate me, making me wanna be better. Fire my own light. Pull out interview?Herukhuti?did with me seven years ago. Not bad. Guess I’m a genius after all! Home from work, eat dinner, relax. Tonight I manage a publishing house, discuss writing projects with co-editors, send checks, edit manuscripts, send rejection letters via email. Edit CFS for two anthologies on aging and pornography. On phone way too much. Crick in neck. I don’t even like the phone. Finish three hours later. Flirt with leaving New York for good. Feeling trapped by ego. Consider calling or texting ex for sex. Realize that eating and sleeping will suffice, like a good Negro.
Sort of up. Journal. Eat. Work. Leave. See bad film with peeps. Currently reviewing every film, book, album I see, read, and hear. Create a few good ones, but most are unfinished. Walk down Lenox Avenue past a Chase, Starbucks, Staples, Marshalls, Rite Aid, Red Rooster, Sylvia?s, past black people, white people, older people, younger people, teenagers on bikes, young mothers pushing sweet babies, beggars. Friday night Harlem. Cueballs bouncing expectations seeking corner pocket desires. Zombies in suits and avoid beggars with the best lines. Teenagers loud talking, test their new skins. Old folks like me just wanna get home and into bed. Mourn a New York that no longer exists. There’s a one-legged essay in my queue about Harlem kicking my belly, begging to be born. Ignore her silly ass, masturbate, go to sleep.
Up. Journal. Eat. Work. Leave. Home. Online sending emails, checking FB. Despise awful FB statuses. Hide the culprits from my news feed. Have a lot of nerve, I do. Post whatever I feel whenever I feel it. Editing an essay about the meaning of Dark Matter in the universe (needs salt). Walk down 5th Avenue near 125th. Wonder what regular people do to feel alive. Not really. The Dark Matter essay sucks, but oh well. Split it in half, see what’s salvageable. A few lines I extract for a poem. Night comes, hugs. Beg off a party with wanna-be-seens. No energy to pose for possible pleasure. Stay at home and read. Wrestle with the word till I pass the fuck out.
?Still not clean, still?not?clean (scrubbing sounds.)
?Just kidding, but, no not really.