Blue Food

It is with great sadness that I announce my departure from Blue Food.

The reasons are personal, but the split was amicable. The last 7 years brought with them some of my greatest creative accomplishments, and I'm incredibly proud of what we achieved together. I will always look back fondly on that period of my life.

Although I have made the unfortunate decision to move on without them, there is no bad blood or ill will between me and my brothers in the band. I love them, and I wish them well in whatever they do.

"It is only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything."

Persephone

Earth opens wide

like the hungry mouths of unfed children,

cracking at the edges

and spewing the contents of its ages

beside you,

in your crooked smile, crossed legs,

and crossed heart.

 

You brace

and terrify, but gather will like leaves

to look inside.

The artery glows with the heat of

your world’s bleak and boundless core,

the place where summers sleep

when the sun turns away

and you’re left with only the warmth

of fires you can imagine.

 

Change springs forth,

thawing you out,

and suddenly blood returns

to your cold countenance,

to carry you away and home again.

Publications

I've been fortunate enough to have my work featured on a few websites recently. In case you missed them, here they are.

My 100-Word poems, "Gild September," "Spider," and "Adam" have been featured on Walking Is Still Honest Press.

A memoir piece, entitled "The Pink Room," is up on Tell Us A Story Blog.

I will also have a memoir piece and some photography featured in the next issue of The Olivetree Review, Hunter College's student run journal, which should be available soon.

More news and tidbits coming soon. Promise.

Militante


So many years,

and still, I wait

for us to be disturbed

by how accustomed

we’ve become to our customs.

 

We lack the eyes to see,

the minds to think,

that lines we draw are illusory,

that the cavities we’ve settled into

are the craters of calamities

we’ve detonated,

 

and the rubble of our selves

is the ground zero

of reality.

 

Think in divisions, and your thoughts will be divisive.

 

When will we move again?

Will it be toward each other?

 

When will we learn

that the strangers we condemn

and confront with fear,

fire,

and ill will,

are we?

 

By George

I was maybe sixteen years old, and I was running my ass off. Sweat poured down my face. My heart was battering its way out of my chest. My legs were begging me to stop, but I couldn’t. I wouldn’t.

Fifteen minutes earlier, a friend had called me on the phone.

“Dude, do you have HBO?”

“No, why?”

“I saw on TV Guide that a George Carlin special is playing.”

“No shit! Who do we know that has HBO?”

We only knew one. She lived about a mile from me and would be happy to record the show for us —but she didn’t have any blank tapes. I grabbed the first VHS I could find and bolted out my door.

I was ten minutes late, but I handed her the tape and limped back to my house, looking forward to another hour of Carlin. I never doubted that it’d be worth it, not even after puking on my way home.

That’s how much we loved George.

In my house at the turn of the millennium, George Carlin became Aesop. He was Plato. He was Mark Twain. He was the funniest man we had ever seen, and the smartest. My brothers, my friends, and I—a precocious and rambunctious bunch of artists and musicians—studied his every bit and routine. The cadence of his speech. The viciousness of his attacks on hypocrisy, irrationality, and greed. We were drawn to his honesty and intellectual integrity. His wit and charm. His filthy, filthy mouth. And we always, always split our sides laughing.

Listening to George was when we first heard our side of the argument. It was the first time these feelings inside of us—this bubbling mire of anger and disenfranchisement, of being maligned and misunderstood—were articulated.

We’d sit and listen to him and feel edified.

We were not alone.

George Carlin knew.

In the ensuing years, I became fearless and honest. I challenged my superiors. I challenged the rules. I challenged religion and god. George lit a fire. He influenced my politics and my moral philosophy. He reinforced my love of language and my loathing for its misuse. He made me feel that there was no need to be afraid, and that speaking the truth to power was a virtue. There didn’t seem a subject or issue that he hadn’t tackled and found the perfect words to encapsulate his thoughts on. I admired his command of the language, his craftiness, his poetry, his mind. I hung on his every word, hoping to squeeze out his intellect and absorb it. George was my guru.

When he died, I wept as though I’d lost a father. Even at 71, it was too soon. I wasn’t done learning yet. I knew he had more to tell us, and I wanted to hear it all. My single greatest regret was that I never got to meet him. Over the years I had thought long and hard about what I would tell him if we ever crossed paths.

I recalled an interview, where Jim Norton asked George if his goal was to make people think. “No,” he said. “I don’t care if I make people think; I just want them to know that I’m thinking.”

What I would have told George, if I’d had the chance, was this:

“I just want you to know that I’m thinking, and that it’s all because of you.”

Arturo

The Alchemist stops and lowers from his camel. The boy, Arturo, remains in the saddle, watching. Beyond them, somewhere, the Great Pyramids sit, balking at the ages. The Alchemist kneels and drives his hand into the ground. The boy hesitates, then follows.

“What are you doing?”

The Alchemist pulls his arm out of the sand, not responding.

They watch as the hole widens and water rises out from deep in the Earth.

They drink, and Arturo smiles. “I want to be able to do what you do—to make something from nothing.”

The Alchemist laughs.

“No one can do that.”

A Dreamer

In my dream,

where flight is possible,

I can hover in the night sky

and look down upon

the world,

green and turning.

 

From this height

there are no borderlines,

no bridges

or boundaries;

just one

roiling mass of life

and light

in a never-ending darkness.

 

And from here

I see a spark

lighting a patch of desert

below.

One more spark,

then another,

until the flicker is a constant,

matching my pulse.

 

I shed a tear

for the painful reality

bleeding into my fiction:

 

in my dream,

where flight is possible,

I still cannot fathom

or imagine

peace.

Photo of Gaza from outer space, by Alexander Gerst.

Rising

Waves grow with menace as they rumble to shore. Despite their vigor, each one flattens and froths when it arrives. They kiss my bare feet meekly but never stop coming. It reminds me of the pain and self doubt I’ve suffered the last few years—the gnawing in my stomach that my twenties have been a waste, and the way I’ve kept pushing for the shores of my uncertain future, regardless.

I’ve been twenty-nine years of waves.

The sun climbs through the cloudy haze on the horizon, and I kneel to take another photograph. I’m focusing my lens on the sky, the colors blossoming out of the twilight, and their reflections on the water. There is a gratification in the sound of the shutter, a ritualistic calm in the clicking of the aperture as I balance the camera’s eye. For a moment, I lose myself in a grade school memory.

    “Mrs. Steinmetz, I have a question.”

    “Go ahead, Angel.”

    “What’s the difference between sunrise and sunset?”

    My principal smiles, her face raisined with age.    

    “Well,” she says, “what happens when the sun sets? It gets…”

    “Darker and darker,” I say. 

    “And when the sun rises, it gets…”

    “Brighter and brighter.”

    “There you go; you’ve answered your own question.”

Dawn spreads across the beach, and I take hundreds of photographs. I will carry on until my memory is full and, if I’m lucky, I’ll end up with one good shot. The sun glows behind the haze, slowly rising. From moment to moment it appears still, but after an hour and a half here, with my slacks rolled up and my feet crusting with sand, I see how far it has come. Our light towers over the ocean, painting the sky in its wake. Every wave is illuminated, and I begin to see that there’s much more to it.

Writing Process Blog Tour

Here is an experiment. It’s a bit like those chain e-mails that were all the rage back in the days of AOL (remember that, kids?). You’d get them every day: a message promising that your secret crush will suddenly call you, or you’ll find a small fortune under that couch cushion, or that mysterious rash will suddenly clear up and save you an embarrassing trip to the doctor. All you had to do was forward the e-mail to your top three hundred friends, and your dreams would come true.

Needless to say, I hated those things. The difference here is that this can actually be useful. Here is something that asks a few questions about a writer’s work and process. I’ve found the answers other writers have given incredibly insightful, so when my friend Krystal A. Sital asked me to be a part of it, I happily obliged. She’s also quite terrifying; I always do what she says.

Anyone who has met Krystal cannot forget her. She is vivacious and enrapturing, and commands attention whenever she walks into a room. Apart from her indelible presence, Krystal is also a phenomenal writer. I have been privy to her immense talent for many years now, and have watched her flourish into what can only be described as “the real deal.” There are many times when reading her work where I feel like a charlatan—a tourist, simply auditing the world she inhabits so comfortably. I aspire to the command she has over her voice. When I start the Creative Writing MFA program at Hunter College this fall, I will have to work very hard to fill the crater she left behind after graduating.

Krystal is an inspiring peer and a wonderful friend, and I love her dearly. I cannot wait to corrupt her children when she’s not looking.

 

What Am I Working On?

In the last six years since graduating from New Jersey City University, I have been quietly toiling away at a full-length memoir, tentatively titled “Echoes.” It began as a final memoir piece for Professor Edvige Giunta’s Memoir Workshop, and has since grown into the manuscript I intend to work on during my tenure at Hunter College. “Echoes” focuses on my experiences growing up both with and without my father. My goal is to examine our canyoning relationship as I go from adolescence to adulthood, my struggles in learning to become a man without a man’s guidance, and my attempts to understand him despite how little I know for sure.

With the help of my writing group, The ReCollective, I have been able to workshop and refine over 30,000 words of this manuscript. Once I begin the MFA program at Hunter I will be digging in even deeper, and hope to produce a complete first draft by graduation in 2016. I would say that it will be a lot of work, but I have a hard time considering labors of love to be work. I will bust my ass, and I will enjoy it.

 

How Does My Work Differ From Others of its Genre?

I am admittedly, and quite sadly, under-read when it comes to memoir. I’m sure that there are a slew of titles under the “My Daddy Didn’t Love Me Enough” umbrella, but I honestly don’t know much about it. At first I was afraid that delving into other memoirs would color my voice and have me thinking too much inside the box in terms of style and tone. However, now that my memoir is well underway and I’m more secure in my own voice, I do want to see what I can draw from the work of other authors. What I hope I can achieve in my writing is that my own point of view comes through. I hope to convey my memories and experiences in a way that brings the reader there with me, and have them coming away from it with a strong sense of who I am. Memoir is, after all, about relating.

 

Why Do I Write What I Do?

Because I have to.

 

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I tend to liken my creative process to a glass slowly filling with water, drop by drop. It begins with a simple idea or basic framework for a piece.

Drop.

I then spend a lot of time structuring and crafting the work in my head, while I occupy myself doing other things.

Drop.

An idea arrives at three o’clock in the morning, or in the middle of the day at work, or while I’m watching a movie.

Drop.

The fragments keep coming, and I begin to have a through line from the beginning of the piece to the end.

Drop. Drop. Drop.

Eventually the glass is brimming, and all I need is that last drop to send it spilling over the edge. That’s when I sit down to write. By then, I’ve been unconsciously processing it for so long that what results is a very nearly finished draft. I’ve rarely had to go back and completely restructure a piece. The editing I tend to do is mostly cosmetic tightening of the prose: cutting excess words, refining images, and sharpening dialog. I also prefer getting it all out in one sitting, which can be pretty intense for pieces longer than five or six pages. Writing 20-page chapters for “Echoes” has been a learning experience for me in terms of pacing myself and knowing how to build larger pieces in multiple sessions. 

 

Who’s Next?

Laura McKeon is a memoirist, poet and photographer, born on the island of Key West and raised on the concrete streets of Jersey City.  Her written work has been awarded by The NJ Scholarship Project and featured in various college publications, Instigatorzine magazine, and the book “Voices of Student Teachers: Cases from the Field.”  Laura is also the author of The Redress of America’s Mother, a commissioned poem for the centennial celebration saluting The Statue of Liberty. Her photographic work has been featured in in various venues including Art House Productions and Casa Colombo in Jersey City, the Oakeside Mansion, sponsored by the Bloomfield Cultural Commission, the Monmouth Festival of the Arts, and the SMI Galleries at Academy Square in Montclair. When not behind a lens or working on her memoir, In the Wake of My Fathers, Laura works as a procurement analyst for the NYC Department of Education.

lolomckee.wordpress.com

 

Annie Rachele Lanzillotto is a writer, actor, songwriter, and performance artist. She is the author of the books "L is for Lion" (SUNY Press) and "Schistsong" (Bordighera Press). Singer/Songwriter of the albums "Blue Pill," "Carry My Coffee,” and "Eleven Recitations" (StreetCry Productions).

www.annielanzillotto.com