The Early Purges

by Seamus Heaney

I was six when I first saw kittens drown.
Dan Taggart pitched them, ‘the scraggy wee shits’,
Into a bucket; a frail metal sound,

Soft paws scraping like mad. But their tiny din
Was soon soused. They were slung on the snout
Of the pump and the water pumped in.

'Sure, isn't it better for them now?' Dan said.
Like wet gloves they bobbed and shone till he sluiced 
Them out on the dunghill, glossy and dead.

Suddenly frightened, for days I sadly hung
Round the yard, watching the three sogged remains
Turn mealy and crisp as old summer dung

Until I forgot them. But the fear came back
When Dan trapped big rats, snared rabbits, shot crows,
Or, with a sickening tug, pulled old hens’ necks.

Still, living displaces false sentiments
And now, when shrill pups are prodded to drown
I just shrug, ‘Blood pups.’ It makes sense:

'Prevention of cruelty' talk cuts ice in town
Where they consider death unnatural
But on well-run farms pests have to be kept down.


I’m a person who holds onto things. Papers from high school, journals, loose paper, outdated clothing, scraps of fabric—I am absolutely sure that all objects in the world will, at some point, become useful in the face of a particular situation. A textbook about the cultural differences in the importance of hair? Surely I will need that one day. That hilarious cotton hunter green onesie? Let’s tuck it away in a drawer, just in case. Will someone ever ask for any writing I’ve done on the possible paranoid schizophrenic tendencies of Shakespeare’s Richard III? Yes! Maybe!

But it’s more than that. Lately, I’ve realized—I’m sure I always knew it, but not consciously—that I solidify emotions and fleeting feelings into things that I can toss on my back and lug around.

Read more on Medium.

Observations on myself as of late.

I get sad when I have too much alcohol: I often think this is a recent development, until I realize I’ve been dealing with that since about the first time I really started to drink alcohol semi-regularly which was sophomore year in college. I do not know what I want to do with my life—I can’t imagine living the remaining portion of it. I am not as straightforward as I have claimed to be, but I am remainingly as reliable as I’ve claimed to be. I keep trying things lately and they mostly keep failing, which I guess is the point of trying. It is hard for me not to get discouraged, but it is also hard for me to fully, completely give up. 

Job Posting - Entry Level Lackey

(This piece was rejected by McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, which really just makes it better in the purpose of itself.)

High-end, dynamic, boutique arts design firm and part-time manufacturing warehouse/independent artist seeks a full-time, entry-level lackey to join our team and handle any and all problems we cannot manage. Lackey will be mostly responsible for running the day-to-day operations of our five-year-old company/business/lifestyle and should be capable of juggling multiple full-time commitments, living on approximately $850/month, and shutting the fuck up about complaining.

Candidate Must Be Able To:

  • Maintain professional demeanor while managing multiple phone lines rife with complete assholes
  • Handle all correspondence between employees, including travel plans, office-to-office communications, employee disputes, petty employee power trips, passive-aggressive staff emails, spousal and familial obligations, and secretive adulterous liasons
  • Keep office supply closet and office fridge stocked to the specific and absurd guidelines set by office policy
  • Lift up to 185 pounds and be able to carry large packages, drug deals, and intoxicated higher-ups
  • Create, perfect, photograph, market, and sell all artistic work as owned by The Artist and forego all credit and thanks from anyone ever
  • Write, edit, proofread, shop, and publish all research materials, fiction, non-fiction, editorial news content, and employee bios
  • Clean up after, cook for, and comfort employees better than their own biological mothers
  • Find and slay the Minotaur and afterwards extricate one’s self from the Labyrinth
  • Charm a crowd, pick their pockets, and make them love oyu
  • Work days, nights, weekends, holidays, and the occasional pre-planned vacation

Candidate Requirements:

  • Minimum 7 years experience doing our job better than us
  • Minimum 3 NYC references that will weep over what a great job you did and what a pity it was to lose you
  • Fluency in MS Office, iWork, Photoshop, InDesign, all Adobe products, HTML, CSS, BetaScripts, GoogleGlass, Medical Terminology, Audio/Visual editing programs
  • PhDs in Art History, Communication, and a Foreign Language preferred
  • Ability to multitask, maintain focus, see the future, and work independently
  • Valid US driver’s license and NYC Food handling license
  • Low self-worth and high anxiety

Please send detailed and position-specific resume, groveling cover letter, and proposed bribes to, subject: Make Me Your Bitch. Copy and paste all items into an email—no attachments please. Candidates with previous experience ONLY will be considered.

Daisy is not a bauble, and Gatsby is not a stalker.

In which I finally take to the pulpit to talk about everything I do not know about Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby, and a fraction of my thoughts about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.


"Chances Are" still knocks the wind out of me. It’s been so long and we’re so far removed, but that song is full of ghosts that were ghosts in the first place. I hear those piano chords, and I can’t help it, and then I get angry that I can’t help it, and then I get skeptical of ever being able to help it, and then I get indignant at not feeling capable of helping it, and then I get sad at feeling so powerless to help it, and then I’m crying for a lot of reasons, and I’m not sure if that makes it better or worse. Is confusion preferable to clarity, however cold, cruel, or deluded the latter might be? I wonder if it’ll ever go away, that shallow inlet somewhere in my lungs that immediately drains when Johnny Mathis sings. You haunt that song, but if anyone came out of this feeling like a ghost, it was always, is always me.

"Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss."

Joan Didion, from “On Keeping a Notebook”, in “Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays” (via mitochondria)

Professed journal-keeper.

(via thackerybinxxx)

"God I want you
in some primal, wild way
animals want each other.
Untamed and full of teeth.

God I want you,
In some chaste, Victorian way.
A glimpse of your ankle
just kills me.

– Want, Clementine von Radics (via clementinevonradics)



Spent a week in the city. Talked to no one until last day. Asked a girl if she wanted to go throw rocks or something into the ocean. She said no and her nose was not pretty. Went anyway. Licked the wind. Tastes like salt and rotten chocolate. Spent Monday on three airplanes flying back. A baby girl sat in the window seat and cut her fingers on a catalog. Forgot the color of my luggage. Spent Tuesday asleep. And Wednesday and Thursday. Spent March awake. Spent two years waiting for some man to propose to this girl I knew so I could be done with it. I’m done with it.

Nights when I get home alone, for whatever reason I am thinking There are a certain type of people cut from a cloth made to love, and usually, on those nights, I am sad, because I’m fairly certain I was not cut from the imaginary cloth that I believe exists. Sometimes I am thinking about stopping into a bar by myself, to grab a drink and a small bite, and then I remember it is Saturday night, and the bars will probably be crowded, and even if they weren’t, I don’t have a book with me, which means what? I’ll have to sit there, grounded in the quiet reality that is dinner alone, nothing to do but think my thoughts and, most likely, be sad. I don’t know when I got this way, but I also can’t remember being any other way. I don’t want people to love me, and I don’t want to have a million friends. But I guess I do want a person with whom I can feel alone, someone that, being around them, might make feel alone and in company, and that seems so hard to do. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it. I don’t know if I’m capable. 

Someone once called me “sadly beautiful,” and at the time I thought he was maybe crazy, but now I know exactly what he meant.