Beam Me Here Now


Beam Me Here Now

“I saw you beam down just now,” he says to me as I was tweeting about wanting a vegetarian corndog which may be more surreal than the conversation that followed. And I knew we would have a conversation–he had that look as he approached me on the sidewalk just past the intersection at Broadway and Myrtle.

“Which ship are you from? ‘X’ or ‘Y’,” he asked me. “X” and “Y” represent the names that I didn’t not hear clearly and that I did not recognize or know. He had a split in his lower lip–the kind of split more likely because of the cold dry air in Boise at the beginning of December than getting hit.

“I don’t think either,” I replied looking up from my phone and facing him. “Then are you from ‘Z’,” he asked suggesting he knew I was from elsewhere. Again, “Z” simply represents the name of a planet, or place, I’m not familiar with.

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Night. [creative nonfiction]

night. an essay on skateboarding

One amber halogen light above a yellow parking block in the warm calm of crickets and cicadas. Fifteen minutes in and this is all there is in the world. Everything distilled to truck or deck, nose or tail.

1984. $200 worth of fixing the lawnmower and cutting summer heat Arkansas grass. Air filters, spark plugs, gas, and grass and grass and then Gulf Shores, Alabama. Church group, alligator crossing signs between the black water lakes and the whitest of white beaches, bikinis and bikinis and becoming—14-year-old body and mind not in sync—stay focused, Hot Tropics Skate Shop. The Gator, Indy 169’s, pink vision Shredders (88A’s so soft I could ride on hard packed gravel), Rib Bones, nose and tail guards(?)(!)—initiation rites.

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Bodies of Sound: An Essay on Vibration


Bodies of Sound

Ancient Egyptians did not draw symbols for vowel sounds in their written language. The sound was considered to be eternal and not able to be transcribed by humans. Hebrews believed similarly, that the sound of a vowel contained the essence of the secret name of G-d, and therefore they did not risk the use of vowels in their written language.

the bone rattle in my ear
of silence says “I am”

The composer, artist, and philosopher John Cage created a series of music compositions based on recordings of lectures he had presented. As a music composition experiment, he removed all vowel sounds from the recordings using tape editing equipment. The title of one of the lectures, “A Lecture on Nothing (PDF).”

There is nothing new
under the sun.”

The Greeks were the first to incorporate vowel symbols in their written language. They articulated human thought and believed they articulated the eternal nature of nature. The Greeks invented names for the naming of things.

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One More Phone Call [videopoem]

One More Phone Call

…then why do we thirst for water?

“One More Phone Call” is a mediation poem on our complicity of want and need and over production in the West. It’s presented here as a videopoem.

After reading this poem out loud at a reading, I realized it was longer than many people could maintain focus (poetry readings are tough even when they’re really good). After the first reading, I created a video backdrop, similar to what you see here. I would read the poem out loud with the video backdrop along with Philip Glass’s symphonic piece “Facades.”

With the video here, I wanted to see if I could create a stand alone videopoem that one could watch without the benefit of a live reading. When I watch this as a meditation, it works. When I watch this as a video, I feel it’s a little slow.

The clips were shot on a Sony MiniDV Camcorder. The mountain and water shots were filmed along Turnagain Arm just south of Anchorage, Alaska on a 15 degree February day. The batteries would last about 25 minutes at a time and I’d have to warm them in my jacket pocket.

Poem, music and video by Jeffery Oliver

I Am Not the Only One [poem]

I Am Not the Only One - poem by Jeff O.

For my niece Molly

Sometimes, numbers just don’t add up.
For example, when people look at me,
I think they think they’re seeing “one:”

One student.
One girl.
One friend.

But most of the time,
I am more than one of anything:

I am one student. But, at the same time, I’m also one girl.
I am one girl. And, at the same time, I am one friend.
I am my mom and I am my dad.
I am today and I am yesterday.

So how can I be “one” and more than one at the same time?
It’s like I’m a closet full of pairs of shoes.

Sometimes I’m a pair of cozy, blue Uggs
when I need to feel warm or when a friend needs a hug.

Sometimes I’m a pair of black, low-top Chuck Taylor’s
when I feel relaxed and I’m just hanging out with my friends.

And sometimes I’m a pair of yellow rain boots with red and blue flowers
when everything around me feels stormy and I need to feel stay safe and dry.

Sometimes, when a friend does something I don’t understand,
I have to remember: Don’t criticize someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

Like the other day at school some friends and I were talking
about heroines in movies and the different shoes they wear,
how in some stories, heroines are shown as only one thing.
Which isn’t like real girls at all.

Think of Snow White’s lovely light yellow slippers with bows—
great shoes for parties with dwarves or waiting around for a kiss from a prince.
But I can’t criticize Snow White.
This is just the way they wrote her story—one pair of shoes.

Or what about Disney’s version of Pocahontas?
She’s even a real person but in the Disney story
she’s seen as a barefoot princess running through the forest
with a raccoon and a humming bird as friends.
In the end though, she made up her own mind
and wrote her own story in a way Snow White couldn’t.

I want to see more heroines who create their own stories.
Heroines who are more than one thing at a time.
Heroines who can wear the yellow slippers and run bare foot.

Heroines who wear heels with a firey dress.
Heroines who wear leather boots and carry a bow and arrow.
Heroines who braid their hair in the morning and have it done formal at night.
Heroines like Katniss Everdeen.

She’s a girl who isn’t afraid to do the right thing.
A girl who isn’t afraid to confront bullies.
A girl who is willing to do anything for a friend.

But me and my friends: we are that girl.

Girls who play basketball and girls who recite poems.
Girls who play music and and girls who play soccer.
Girls who do science and girls who ride bicycles.

I am a girl and I am a friend.
I am a friend and I am a daughter.
I am Snow White and I am Pocahontas. I am Katniss Everdeen.
And I am not the only one.

Poem by Jeffery Oliver. Performed by Molly Feb. 2014.

The Hallowed Bike (Ride)

1979 Mongoose Team Model

It was 1979. October 31, 1979, to be exact and dusk. I was in fourth grade and had received my birthday present early–a black and gold Team Mongoose bicycle. It was my first BMX bike and I loved it immediately.

On this Halloween evening though, I was across town from home and it was getting dark. Rather than take “the trails” home in the dark, I decided to take the shorter route through what I grew up knowing as “Black Town.” Again, this was 1979 in Arkansas. Not even poor people were integrated then.

The youngest of trick or treaters were just coming out–little ghosts waddling like E.T. before we knew, “phone home…” I started down the hill, more of a declination really, but enough that a kid on a bicycle could pick up some speed. I remember riding on the sidewalk, one of the few in Russellville. Parts of the neighborhood were quite new.

What I remember now, on this anniversary date 37 years later, was a dogleg curve in the sidewalk that I wanted to avoid. I don’t remember if I rode out into the street from a driveway or if I rode off the curb, but I still remember the feel of the loose sand under the front tire as it slid out from beneath me as I cruised down the hill.

I was down and sliding on the pavement, breath knocked out of me, and my face bounced once off the street. I stood up fast and already blood was all over the front of my shirt. I don’t remember the shirt now–but so much blood and the sand stuck to my hands and face. I remember starting to breathe again.

From somewhere, some house nearby I heard, “Jeffery, Jeffery, is that you Jeffery? You ok Jeffery?” It all hit me–the admonishments of, “Don’t go through Black Town.” I was terrified. I was ok, but wouldn’t know that for another half hour or so. He was a classmate of my sister who was two years younger. I recognized his voice but not his face as I wiped tears and sand while picking up my bicycle.

I don’t know that I said anything to him. This person who had concern in his voice for me. In my mind I remember talking with him the next day at school but I’m certain I didn’t thank him enough for reaching out to someone in distress.

I got home and went to the emergency room for a few stitches in my chin. That night I learned something about “Black Town”–about what people think and say about the unknown.

I didn’t ride my bicycle on Halloween for years after that. Unlike today where I’ll hop on the bike to get to the day job and grateful for the ride.