Monday, July 30, 2007

50 Ways to Break You Heart (continues...)

Seven Sides to the Story

There are seven bison remaining in California. They live on the slope of an excavated hill. At dawn they cluster together on the western edge of fence. There is no mountainside for them to hide in. White Buffalo Calf Woman gave the Lakota the sacred pipe. She was wakan and could not be harmed by arrow or bullet. The people had other weapons. She gave them seven sacred rituals and then disappeared into the white cloud of their disbelief. There are seven bison and 36,457,549 people in California. The largest terrestrial mammal in North America, the bison live in a paddock the size of a city block. Darkly furred and humped, bison can live for up to 20 years. In captivity their lives are more precarious; they suffer from alcoholism, poverty, a sickness of spirit. 60 million bison once roamed the grasslands of North America. There are seven circling their pen. There is only one way to tell you this. We are endangered. Current rates of depensation make it unlikely that we will ever recover.

Lesson Nine


Make a list of every fucking thing anyone has ever done to you. Go year by year, recalling every slight, every rejection and disappointment. This may take some time. At some point, your throat will close and your hand will spasm and freeze. Take a deep breath. Proceed.


Put words in other people’s mouths. You’re a manipulator. This shouldn’t be hard for you to do. Write aphorisms on strips of rice paper and place them into every open mouth you see. When people protest, tell them “it is not wise to beat your chest if your heart is stone.” Place you hand across their lips. Put some paper in your own mouth and chew.


Place a help wanted ad in the newspaper. Say, help wanted. No name or number. Nothing else. Just, help wanted.


Steal someone else’s pet, preferably one of those well groomed poodles. Keep it until its coat is shaggy, the bow lopsided and stained. Then send it home. You will have what you were seeking, a bittersweet week spent in the proximity of something cherished, the stolen property of someone capable of such an emotion.

Friday, July 20, 2007

more from 50 Ways to Break Your Heart

Lesson Five

Pick anything, anyone. Make them into to something greater than they are. This is a familiar activity. Remember when you cast that bastard as a revolutionary hero? Remember all that political rhetoric you used to swaddle your own heart?

The easiest solution is to make him her or her him. Some kind of biochemical transition. There’s always that Indian boy who knows enough about women to know they are not born as such; it is something they choose to become. Grammatically speaking there are two ways of being, some assignment the nouns take. But gender is as infinite as sound. Indonesian gamelan ensembles often include three gendér. Most heartbreaks involve three bodies. The best boys were once girls. That girl, the one who broke your heart, she was a boy once too.

Lesson Six

You were an anarchist as a teenager. Stole canned goods from supermarkets and spent four days in the desert with a punk rock band and an assault rifle. This earned you a picture on the back cover of their record album. It was a hot, bright afternoon. You were drinking beer in your pajamas, some teenage girl in a dry riverbed. Later things took a turn for the worse. During a break in the set, the drummer took the rifle and scanned targets from the ridge. It did in fact seem anarchistic. The other band members sat drinking in their chairs but you and the other girl decided to run. You figured he was too drunk to manage distance and movement. But your departure signaled you both as prey. In the end, nobody died. You all drove back to the city together in the same broken down van. After that, it became hard to imagine the enduring benefits of a lifetime dedicated to such social disorder. You turned instead to communism, to labor and books. This would prove to be equally disappointing. But by then you were older. Disappointment was easier to bear.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

from 50 Ways to Break Your Heart

Lesson One

Say it isn’t broken. A muscle can’t really break at all. It can tear, torque, atrophy. It can be stripped of skin, cleaved from bone.

If it is exposed, palpitating, slick with blood, close your eyes and imagine it belongs to someone else. Grab someone, anyone and tell them, “you’ve dropped something. Your heart. It looks injured.” Then run as fast as you can.

Rename the fucking thing. Call it memory or fear. Take a big roll of duct tape and wrap the mess of it into a tight silver lump. Put it on your bookshelf. If anyone asks, you can tell them some vague story about a dog you once had, a dog that loved duct tape, loved that odd shaped orb of it. It is easy enough to imagine. Who hasn’t had such a dog?

Lesson Two

Forget about it all together. Really, who cares if your heart is broken? It caused you nothing but trouble to begin with. Remember you’re Indian; your heart was stolen long ago. Hang the medicine pouch around your neck. Cover the hollow of your chest with herbs. When you miss the pulsation of your own heartbeat, hum the sound of its vanishing. Those white folks won’t even notice. Something so insignificant as nostalgia shouldn’t bother anyone at all.