(align:"=><=")+(box:"X=")["A mixtape is for the street, it’s something you make without necessarily thinking about it because you have to stay in the game. It’s like writing an e-mail saying hello to your friends.”]
(align:"==>")+(box:"X=")[– Jeffery Lamar Williams]
(align:"=><=")+(box:"X=")[[[//INSERT TAPE//->Title Page]] ][[Intro]] //Intro//
[[Carthage, 146 BCE]] //Pandemic Poem//
[[Smoking Couple]] //Poem//
[[Worm Moon]] //Short//
[[Cemetery, Pt. 1]] //Poem//
[[James and The Technicolor Quantum Bike]] //Short//
[[Mashed Potatoes: or A Compendium of Human Knowledge]] //Short//
[[Summer Notes]] //Poem//
[[A Boy & His Brain]] //Short//
[[A Dirty Water Night]] //Poem//
[[Spearfishing in Albany]] //Short Story/Novel Excerpt//
A wise man once said:
"My world's on fire/ How 'bout yours?"
Now that couplet pretty much sums up my feelings as I write this intro. Things are shitty. BUT I think when things are shitty, it's extra important to both share how I feel, and see how others are doing. So, thank you for taking the time to check out this project. If it happens to be something you enjoy, or it makes you feel something, or reminds you of something, or maybe you have something of your own to share, reach out to me on twitter (link:"@PeterJamesBurke")[(open-url:'https://twitter.com/PeterJamesBurke')].
Now, I should probably actually introduce this project. Basically, it is a collection of poems and other writings that I've come down with over the past few years. I made the first iteration of this kind of 'literary mixtape' a couple years ago (you can find it (link:"here")[(open-url: 'https://philome.la/PeterJamesBurke/premonition-ultra/')]) and it felt really good. A lot has changed since then, but it felt really good make one of these again. I definitely needed it.
In this volume, you'll find some darker pandemic-ridden content, but I also tried to include and record the moments of humanity that got me through quarantine and these grim days. Just like last time, everything in here is stuff to show the world what I write and what I feel. There isn't any important order to the project, so feel free to sample around. The last entry, the 'B-Side', is a larger piece that is part of a novel that hasn't completely come together — though for the most part it reads as a stand-alone story. I've got a different novel project in the works now, so keep an eye out for that in the next couple years.
Once again, thanks for throwing on my mixtape.
And happy Clam Day. IYKYK.
-Peter James Burke
Check out my short story at (link:"Burns Park Limited")[(open-url:'https://burnsparklimited.com/')]!
#(align:"=><=")+(box:"X=")[Clam Day Tapes
(align:"=><=")+(box:"X=")[By Peter James Burke]
(align:"=><=")+(box:"X=")[[[//HIT PLAY//->Intro]] ]
''Worm Moon'' //(2020)//
We get there–
“I really like this idea of propagation of neural activity.”
A project we had been cultivating for a while now. An incubator of offhand conversation & late nate forays.
A grand unifying theory escaped us, but we contented ourselves with hammering at the edges.
“ You could potentially start to like, maybe like, //predict// what the potential seed could be.”
Tonight, our block of marble was the human brain — a common medium for our sketches and studies.
—insert long-winded passage—
So there’s this model of time, I read about it in a journal recently. It basically says, like imagine if you drop a pebble into a pond, a ring emanates, right? An observer needs context to understand that ripple. It could be any size, so you need like, another ripple. And by tying the two ripples together in time & space you can represent the ripples in —//illegible//—.
Now imagine there’s a sea of neural activity. Within that sea there are infinite little ripples. And they are tied to this sea of activity.
Concurrent circuits fire together in a probabilisticly preserved order every time. This structure is circular — and the idea is that knowing how these sequences propagate ties into the knowing of how these ripples propagate.
You’d eventually be able to discern how circuits propagate in time. A neural code would emerge. //Time itself encoded in the neurons firing.//
We can kind of tie this up philosophically by saying that time only exists between events. You need a medium through which time moves.
If more stuff happens around you — time is skewed in one direction. If less, the model predicts the other.
If you know how fast the ripples propagate — like you know the medium, know the wind, know the temperature, you can model it.
If we can do that with neural activity, we could then decode coincident neural activity and time codes”
“So the brain is a time … thermometer?”
“Well, I think the guy called it a time machine.”
“Yeah thats a little more catchy.”
We are an interacting species.
“Humanity is a donut — you are an outlier and an integral part.”
“Is Humanity a wormhole?”
[[Next Track->Cemetery, Pt. 1]]
[[Track List->Contents]] ''Carthage, 146 BCE'' //(2020)//
A dead rapper croons
:everybody’s gonna die:
As we say goodnight
I sit under the Christmas lights
1 fortress, 5k a month, in unit washer/dryer, no cats
One by one, we return from our rooms
To gather around the fire
We stare, as I throw in the snuggie
Break the wooden stool
The one that was falling apart anyway
And feed it to the flames
“Good thing our smoke detectors don’t work,” Someone says
The lights go out
So we make our tea over the flames
And offer our thoughts on when we picked the wrong timeline
Somebody has rolled a joint
Laughter when we can’t find a lighter, Soft
I wonder about what is beneath these hardwood floors
We can see the stars now
& a warm wind blows through the halls
The fire crackles like microwave popcorn
My grandparents’ dresser a blackened hull in the ashes
It was too nice to be a TV stand anyway
''James and The Technicolor Quantum Bike'' //(2020)//
James unearthed the dusty bike from his parent’s garage. It was in poor shape, but the debilitating stagnation of summer at home was more than enough motivation for him to sink the time into fixing it up
The repair went well until he got to the spokes. They were completely rusted through. They would have to be replaced.
With no bike store for miles, he would have to get creative. His father, a materials scientist downstate, kept a well stocked workshop in the basement — so it was there he turned.
The rods were almost too perfect. Found in a box marked “Failed,” the slim poles could be fitted with little alteration. Additionally, they possessed a dazzling effect — they shimmered with an almost inextricable rainbow when moved in the light. This only compounded when he finally got them positioned and took the bike for a spin in the driveway. The glittering spectrum that the spinning wheels created was like nothing James had ever seen.
In no time, he was back to cruising around the woods, streets, and paths that surrounded the summer house. The claustrophobia of parental observation melted away, and James felt free.
One evening, James got a little carried away and the warm sunset became night before he made the final mile trip home. Darkness began pooling in the corners and valleys of the woods and roads around him. Straining to avoid hitting a rock or bump that would send him tumbling, but also with a mind to get home as fast as possible, James peddled.
As he approached the final stretch before the safe confines of his house, the road dipped into a small ravine. Trusting that he’d done this hundreds of times before, James plunged full speed into the increasingly inky darkness at the bottom of the hill.
For a moment, there was no sound, no light.
Then, just as he dove in, he burst out the other side, into the light of the family home.
At least he thought that it was the family home.
James looked about him, and quickly realized that something was different.
Not only was the building before him not his familiar summer house, but the trees were different, too. Thinner. And the sounds. The crickets were replaced by some sort of tree frog or bird. Even the air was thicker and more humid.
As he approached the glowing building, James looked around in wonder. Where was he?
Spellbound, James hopped off the bike and went to prop it against the wall of the building. Close now, he saw that the building was made of aged stucco, chipped and weathered.
He also began to hear a new sound, one he hadn’t heard in a long time: people.
Spilling out of windows and cracks was the sound of people, and more specifically, a //party.// Voices tumbled over one another and music seemed to ooze from the very heart of the house itself.
As James stood for a moment, soaking in the sounds, a certain chord was plucked in his brain. Or maybe his heart — and he could pick out a single voice from the tangle. All thoughts of trying to figure where he was or how he got there fell from his mind.
A slice of orange light appeared on the ground next to him, and it took a few beats for James to realize that a door had been opened. A silhouette gestured at someone. At him.
Without a glance back, he stepped toward the portal.
If he had looked back, he would have seen something that would have shook his mind. Or maybe it wouldn’t.
But back there in the yard, bathed in the warm glow of the doorway, lay a bike. Discarded with youthful care, this bike prostate upon the dirt looked exactly like his own.
As James disappeared into the doorway surrounded by embers of light and laughter, a sight never seen by human eyes played out on the lawn.
In a mirage-like shimmer, the two bikes — one against the wall, the other in the dirt — bled into each other. The spokes seemed to oscillate like a cup staying upright before collapsing into their parallel. Within seconds, short enough for an observer (if there had been one) to question if they really saw it, the bikes became //a// bike.
If this was a return or a transformation, it is for someone much wiser to say, but there on that gentle night, things have come together.
[[Track List->Contents]] ''Smoking Couple'' //(2020)//
I look out my window at Smoking Couple
Today it is rainy & their black umbrellas
Block their faces
Their hands disappear behind these screens & little
Clouds drift out
They look like good friends
I assume they are lovers
I am envious of their ceremony
I think of asking them for a smoke, to join, commiserate
Maybe we would become friends
I think we would
I balk, I nod, walk by
This is their time
No matter what they have going on in their lives
They have these moments together
[[Next Track->Worm Moon]]
[[Track List->Contents]] ''A Dirty Water Night'' //(2019)//
It’s about time
To give a Nation’s warning
I find it a strange era
Who has the fight
I cried last night
That I might not afford a slice
Man is lost
And we grieve the dog
Job is won
And we flee the post
Poetry died at Auschwitz
What horror shall resurrect it?
Lonely in the jungle
Dismal on the mount
Running gives me solace
But it seems I have run out
We need me more than ever
So why do I lay down?
The memory of women
Sustains me when she is gone
Tell the truth
See how far it gets you
Not worth the wings
Flying isn’t worth the hassle these days
And so I walk
I owe some steps anyway
[[Side B->Spearfishing in Albany]]
[[Track List->Contents]] ''Mashed Potatoes: or A Compendium of Human Knowledge'' //(2019)//
It’s been said that all of human existence can be captured in certain things. Great art — the Mona Lisa. Great technology — a spaceship. Or science — E=mc^^2^^.
In reality, the repositories for the human conglomerate of understanding are much more banal. All that is human is contained in the most unassuming of things.
One of these is your average serving of mashed potatoes.
The key to this is not to observe the physical form of the potatoes and try to discern the secrets and labyrinths it contains — but in trying to start anywhere else and work your way to the mashed potatoes. This can be planar — your buddy Raul, he exists only a few feet away from this heaping plate of spuds — or Beijing, China, thousands of miles to the Southeast, coordinately speaking. Or conceptual, say, the emotion of jealousy.
Now, you may say “Wait, can’t you just use anything in this way?” And to that I answer, “Yes?”
The trick is really to take this connectome of relations and learn to play it backwards.
There are a few great masters I know who can do this — look at an object and divine anything humanly known from it. They can do it with any object, but I've found that, almost to a person, their preferred medium is mashed potatoes. They say it is easiest to read the trajectories of intersection on a surface so multifaceted yet malleable as mashed potatoes — particularly Yukon.
[[Next Track->Summer Notes]]
[[Track List->Contents]] ''A Boy & His Brain'' //(2019)//
He awoke to find he had not woken up. There he lay, clearly, sound asleep in the woolen blankets and too soft pillows.
He seemed smaller on the exterior — or maybe just larger on the interior. Somehow, this sleeping coil lacked the ability to contain an internal massiveness. He found himself growing.
He remained in the room, but his mind inflated like a balloon, or maybe more like a Thanksgiving Day float. But it was always in the back of his mind. He couldn’t see the expansion, but he could feel it back there; growing, growing.
Why did the shell before him remain the same? The person he was couldn’t possibly fit in there now. He held so much.
It was as if his brain decided to no longer play the hanger-on. Time had come to ascend to its rightful throne. That was it. It was his brain that was growing. Right there behind his eyes.
This wouldn’t look good. He had never seen his brain, but he assumed it wasn’t a pleasant sight. He wasn’t quite ready for it to be his defining feature. No sense of proportion. Proportion was good. Surely his brain understood that.
But it inflated regardless. He realized what he would have to do: he would keep it on a string.
There, it could float about as it chose, grow as large as it desired. Let the infinite expanse of Space be its playground. That would satisfy it. Even the largest brain couldn’t possibly imagine occupying any serious amount of Outer Space.
So it would remain there, and he would remain tethered to himself by a string. A slight pull could bring attentions back to events on the surface, just as a child jerks and bops at a birthday balloon. There, in Space, it wouldn’t get in anyone’s way — maybe just the occasional satellite — and his life could go on, largely unchanged.
And so it did.
He would tie the brain to his wrist when other things occupied his focus. Dully aware of each other, he and his brain. Neither much wanting to disturb the other, and having worries of their own to attend to.
Occasionally, during sleep mostly, the cord between the two would become wrapped and tangled, and the two would be drawn closer together. They both enjoyed when it happened, but would apologetically untangle as soon as morning found them like this.
[[Next Track->A Dirty Water Night]]
[[Track List->Contents]] ''Cemetery, Pt. 1'' //(2020)//
I went for a walk in the cemetery
To talk amongst the dead
I figured they’d have good advice
About how not to lose one’s head
I mourned — “People these days should take a page from you!”
And this is what they said:
“We thank you for your reverence
And welcome company
But we think you ought, after much thought
Get the right idea about we
You see, while dead, we are by no means
In no way, anger free
It’s just our fists can only wave
And so we’re forced to so behave
It’s not by choice, that we must voice
You’d seem calmer too, if all you see
Is your next of kin and the odd chickadee
[[Next Track->James and The Technicolor Quantum Bike]]
[[Track List->Contents]] ''Compromise'' //(2020)//
Two angels sat, discussing the fate of a world.
“It has to go,” said one. “The poor thing is far beyond saving.”
The other looks down upon the swirling mass. “What makes you say that?”
“Really? I can smell it from here — it's gone bad!”
“I don’t know, I just think it would be rash to throw it away,” the second angel said. “It might still be good for something.”
The first angel shook its head and shrugged. “I mean, you heard the big guy — keep it if it’s good, pitch it if it’s bad. And this one looks pretty bad.”
“But how can you tell? What if it’s just the surface that’s like that — and it’s actually mostly good underneath?” the second angel threw up it’s hands, exasperated.
The two sat in silence, thinking it over. Finally, one turned to the other.
“You ever heard of destructive chromatography?”
The other shook its head, confused.
“Well, it’s the idea that by studying the colors that result when you burn something — you can determine its composition.”
A look of understanding dawned on the face of the other angel.
“Oh, I see where you’re going with this. To see what this baby is really made of — we gotta let it burn.”
So, with a little wave here and a little sprinkle there, the two angels stoked the flames.
Satisfied with their work, they sat back and watched to see what the world truly was.
[[Next Track->Smoking Couple]]
[[Track List->Contents]] ''Ocean''//(2020)//
The ocean cannot be hurried
I try to do the same
It is hard to beat the ocean
Only a fool will play its game
Though there is something quite calming
In a force beyond control
The gulls are prone to laughter
This is something they well know
To find humor in its power
Home under its dark sway
All life from it emerges
Someday yet, it shall return
I find it fit to visit
So we’ll not be strangers on that day
[[Next Track->Mashed Potatoes: or A Compendium of Human Knowledge]]
[[Track List->Contents]] ''Summer Notes'' //(2020)//
Glad I found you
In one of the rooms
Space enough for all
But we have to share the bathrooms
So please be courteous
Hometowns are nice
Wish everyone got to have one
Sit in the grass more often
Fuck ticks tho
[[Next Track->A Boy & His Brain]]
[[Track List->Contents]] ''Spearfishing in Albany'' //(2020)//