A Half Made Cloud from Chris Dankland on Vimeo.


maybe I’m just stoned, but this feels profound
the midnight sky above me, expanding infinitely
so soundless, and my trashy little city below it
howling like a dying animal

I wear my ugly heart inside my throat like a goiter

I stroke my curved bones, ingrown, all out of place
staring at this body that surrounds me
laid out on my bed, drowsy, a half made cloud
floating through the sky because it’s filled with drugs
and lazy dreams

how many poems are there

about people feeling fucked up and deathless
because the disaster of their lives is so complete
that it will never be resolved

here’s another one


I was teaching a 7th grade class when I saw a student walk in with a big tattoo on her forearm. The tattoo was of two words written in cursive. I thought it said One Love. In 7th grade, the students are twelve or thirteen years old. 

I asked her what the tattoo said and she showed it to me. It said One Deep.

What does that mean? I asked.

She said: I don't have a dad...my brother is dead...my mom is...messed up...so.


Please Don't Get Your Goddamn Heart Broken from Chris Dankland on Vimeo.


Sometimes I'm the one that texts her, and sometimes she's the one who texts me. Half an hour later I hear a knock on my door. It's Helen of Troy. Damn, Helen of Troy looks good. I crawl into bed while she gets ready in the bathroom.

Wearing nothing but a sleepy smile, she steps into my bedroom and walks toward me on tiny footsteps, her figure moving like a silk curtain in an open window. Silently she crosses the foot of my bed and looks at me. Her shadow falls over me, radiating a dark heat that only I can feel. And then she lies down beside me. I lick my lips and am literally melted alive by her warm legs and fingers, her round waist and wet body, the tiny paradise we make beneath the covers.  

I can’t believe that I’m actually fucking Helen of Troy on a semi-regular basis. I’m amazed. I speak to her in iambic pentameter. I buy her cheap necklaces and earrings that she accepts out of politeness. Occasionally I feign indifference towards her, because some girls are really into indifference. She tells me to stop trying to impress her. Sometimes we stay up and watch the sunrise. 

In more intimate moments she tells me how her mom was raped by a swan, and I tell her I’m sorry that happened, that’s fucked up. She tells me she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She tells me that in a little bit she has to go back home and I say “why” and she says “because.” The discussion never advances beyond those two words, although sometimes we repeat them over and over for a long time. 

This isn't magic, she says. She isn't a princess or queen, she's Helen the Bank Teller, and I'm not going to rescue her from anything. Don't make this complicated. Don't turn this into some bloody, ten year war. Don't start writing epics. Faustus, please don't get your goddamn heart broken. This kind of stuff happens all the time. They are as common as stones, these love affairs.


City Limits from Chris Dankland on Vimeo.


Driving across thousands of miles of interstate, past cheap hotels and midnight filling stations, over bridges and the endless fields, under sun and starlight, into the new city at last. To get to New City, you cannot avoid traveling a long road, more interminable and unknown than even the curving burning halls of Dante’s infernal city. To get to New City, you must abandon all hope, forgetting yourself more and more with each approaching step. No more old names to whisper when you’re alone in the dark. No more hometowns or mothers. No scroll of sins to drag behind you. Nothing to know and nowhere to be. Surrounded by light.


Blow Kisses At The Wind from Chris Dankland on Vimeo.


There is a cliff so steep that even the stars fear it. It is there and nowhere else that you must throw yourself: to edges, to air, to naked light.

I stand at the foot of my bed and watch myself sleep.

Throw away your life, your heart, your hands. Blow kisses at the wind. Give up these tiresome streets, and move through the world like an underwater eel.

Stuff the walls of your brain with cork and xanax and smoke until you make yourself a nest of perfect silence. Speak in a soft voice, too tender to be heard. Close the door of your bedroom and stay there, for another year.


What It Feels Like To Die from Chris Dankland on Vimeo.


Approaching the moment of truth, a blindness fell from her open naked eyes and bright light entered her. 

The light bleached away all bodies and shapes until the only thing she could see was the hum and blur of spinning particulates. 

Every name she knew and mumbled fantasy, every song that had made her cry, every ache of bedroom love, every wail of astonishment, every lonely sigh, every curse word, every earthly thing that ever touched her was in a moment dissolved and obliterated.

She did not feel regret.

Regret is something that only the living know. 

The last thing she felt was the sad mysterious lovely grace of vanished things.

She drifted into the air.


Eight days before yesterday I learned that lacrimae rerum is a latin phrase coined by Virgil which means 'the tears in things.'

Seven days before yesterday the drive-thru guy at Taco Cabana told me they were closed for extermination and I resolved to eat healthier food.

Six days before yesterday I drove to Galveston at four a.m. and sat on the beach alone watching the sunrise and then I went swimming.

Five days before yesterday I drove to work early in the morning and saw that the moon was still out and said ‘hello moon’ and had a sudden vision of a billion million different human beings dating back to the early cave people who had probably said the exact same thing in a billion million different contexts, in a billion million different languages.

Four days before yesterday I had a dream that I robbed a bank and suddenly ordinary things seemed so beautiful to me because I knew that I’d get caught and would be going to prison soon.

Three days before yesterday I thought I saw a boob on tumblr but it turned out to be a man boob.

Two days before yesterday I asked a kid who was staring at the wall what he was thinking about and he said 'jeans for a gorilla.'

The day before yesterday a bird took a giant green shit on my car's rear window.

Yesterday I did resin hits.

Today I taught an elementary special ed class and a six year old boy pulled his dick out during the days of the week song and made a loud rooster-type scream.


The first time I shot a gun was in high school when I went camping with Greg and Jerry in La Grange. In the morning we ate mushrooms and decided to take the guns out and go hunting.

I think we only walked a quarter mile into the woods, but for most of the time I was worried that we'd get hopelessly lost and die in the wilderness like The Blair Witch. It was early fall. Jerry kept giggling the whole time. I remember compulsively wiping away handfuls of drug sweat from my face, the kind of sweat that's thick and dark and heavy like a kind of poison.

At some point it was decided that we should try to get some boars. We'd heard that they were getting overpopulated. Our plan of attack was basically to sit around talking and smoking cigarettes and if we saw a boar, we'd shoot it. Soon we were peaking and seeing boars all over the place. The rocks all looked like boars, and the trees too, and everything with a shadow. There we were, blasting away.

I could hear them snorting and digging their hooves in the mud. Then it got cloudy and the sky suddenly turned the color of warthog's hairy blubber, pressing down on us. We trained our rifle scopes at the sky and pulled the trigger again and again. As far as I can remember we didn't catch anything.


Of course you want a person who gives you affection and support and good sex and excitement, but even more than that you want someone who wants you, you longs for you when you’re away, who dreams about kissing you, who can’t live without you. And you want to want them too. 

This wanting is a sweet kind of torture that feels good in the night but also has an inherent tragedy to it, because it means being dependent on someone else for your happiness. 

When you are not in love, the great romances of your past become like old songs you can play through your head, intangible ghosts. But when you are in love you become a song yourself, or you become like a musical note in a song—crashing constantly into a mangle of vibratory, shimmering tones and melodies—some of which belong to you and some of which belong to the other person. The song will always end eventually, one way or another. Maybe it will be a long song or a short one. You are always in the air. But it is a beautiful way to be. 

When you are not in love, your pining becomes abstract. You don’t lust for one woman, but women in general. Your life congeals into a singular density—your needs, your dreams, your goals. Your hands feel harder. When you stand up you can feel the floor. That is also a beautiful way to be, but you must be able to appreciate the silence it lives in.


I used to have a paper route delivering The Houston Chronicle. 

Every night from 2 to 5 a.m. I’d pile the back seat of my car with several hundred rolled newspapers and drive through a series of neighborhoods and apartment complexes, throwing copies out the window. 

It was a shitty job that barely paid me but I loved being out in the city late at night. 

At 3 in the morning the city looks like a ghost town. 

There is a beautiful emptiness to it. 

Houston is one of those cities that goes on and on and on.


yesterday has changed us
or been changed by us
and the day before that
and the day before that
so we can never be repeated
even if we repeat ourselves endlessly
we are always new
trading older selves for newer duplications
a newer person, slightly older


A thousand meters below the surface of the ocean lies the deep sea.

The pressure in the deep sea is 300 times that of the pressure on land. There is almost nothing to eat down there. To conserve energy, many of the creatures that live in the deep sea have evolved methods of remaining motionless for weeks or months at a time, waiting suspended in the blind unlit nothing for a chance meal to float its way.

Sunlight can’t penetrate water beyond a thousand meters. The rest of the way goes on in total darkness, sometimes for miles and miles. It’s always been that way. The deep sea has never seen the sun, it doesn’t even know the sun exists. I don’t know why V. killed herself and it really bothers me sometimes, thinking about it. I wish that she hadn’t done that. The deep sea is full of volcanic mountains that spew poisonous sulfuric gases, and geysers that are hot enough to melt steel.

A constant shower of organic matter floats down from the upper waters and falls to the ocean floor. This is called Marine Snow. Marine Snow is the largest food source in the deep sea. Most Marine Snow is composed of pieces of dead animals, plankton, and fecal matter. I used to know a few people who sold crack. I’d be smoking a blunt or drinking a beer with them and out of nowhere a junkie would appear among us, holding their arms or picking their face, sniveling and desperate like junkies always are. One time a woman showed up wearing an expression on her face like she’d just clubbed her own child to death because somebody told her to. It was the most defeated look that I’d ever seen on another human being. It’s a war, this life, a war that defeats us all. In front of the woman and everybody else my friend said loudly “Anybody want their dick sucked?” and laughed and laughed and laughed as if life was a never ending carnival of pleasure.

Literature is supposed to be good for something, isn’t it? All this talking isn’t just for your own desperate little ego. Language isn’t some alien world unto itself. Language exists for humans. All this solitary work that eats a hole in your heart and burns your years away, isn’t it supposed to count for something beyond your own hollow amusement? Aren’t you supposed to be reaching people? 

Imagine that my hands are gripped around your shirt. My breath is on your face, my eyes are wide open, and I am shaking you as hard as I fucking can. Come back to the world. Don’t be dead. You once happy inhabitants of the windblown breathing world, you sweethearts of the sun, you moon-eyed moon gazers, come back. And beware. For even now, we are within the deep sea’s clutches.


I like to write when everything is quiet and still—midnight to 5am is best, an apocalyptic wasteland is even better, the surface of the moon would be ideal—but like everyone, I have to work with what I have. When reality gets noisy, you have to either drown it out or drown inside it. Lately I’ve been playing Minecraft music. 

I think Oliver Mol was the one who told me that he listens to Minecraft music while writing. Did he? That time we drove around Austin all night because we had nowhere to sleep. I think he told me that. I think that’s where I got it from. Shouts out Oliver.

I like Minecraft music. It’s peaceful, repetitive, and there aren’t any lyrics. The music was designed to accompany marathon sessions of gaming, to help gamers zone out while they patiently build voluminous digital worlds. I can loop a three or four minute track and listen to it for hours on end. If I turn it up loud enough, I can’t even hear myself typing.


No, I take it back—what would be even better than the surface of the moon is floating through outer space. That would be the truly ideal writing environment. 

And I would have no eyes to watch the stars—the sight of which, I’m sure, would only distract me. And no body either, with all its demanding hunger pains and heartbeats and needs to piss and shit and masturbate and breathe. Just a self contained brain floating through the universe like a lifeless asteroid. Nice. Just smooth cosmic sailing. I think I would get a lot of writing done that way. 

I wonder what I would write about? They say that you should write about what you know.

I’d write about life on earth, I guess. Being a human being, maybe. How wind feels on your skin, and what it's like to do mdma and run around with firecrackers in your hands. Perhaps. And staying up all night with the whole star spotted universe revolving through your mind, listening to Minecraft music. I guess that’s what I’d write about.

One thing that sucks about outer space is you can’t smoke weed out there, because there’s no oxygen. (Plus no weed.) I just remembered that. Man, fuck outer space.


The city outside was noisy, but all I could hear was the sizzle of slow burning cigarette paper and my own mumbling heart.  And the good book says: I will take away the stony heart and give to you a heart of flesh.  But I was tired of that too soft heart of mine.  That wet twitching heart, fuck you.  All it did was give me a bunch of feelings.  I didn’t want it anymore.  I wanted to get stoned.  

I peeled off my sticky socks and wiggled my toes.  I wanted to hold the hot smoke in my chest until my chest rose like a balloon, carrying me into the sky.  I smoked the joint until it was nothing but a thin little roach, and then I put it out.

Well here I am again, I thought.  Hanging in the thin air.

My mind was lit up like a pinball machine.  For a stoned moment I felt like I could say the world’s most beautiful thing.  And the good poet says: it shall come as naturally as leaves to the tree.  Like exhaling a lung of smoke, I would simply open my mouth and my word transfigured heart would ease out into the atmosphere.


The only things I cared about was reading books and getting stoned.  If I had a choice between blue skies and Babel, I would pick Isaak every time.  I kept a joint in my cigarette pack for every inappropriate occasion.  There wasn’t the slightest interest in me to keep my feet on the ground. I wanted no association with reality. The only way I wanted to see life was through a pair of bloodshot eyes, or in the reflection of a white page.  The outside world was a ghost to me.  The only realities I considered worth knowing were the ones I dreamed up inside my skull, and I was dreaming all the time.


It really annoys me when I see these certain writers, men and women, go on and on and on about how great skinny girls are. Skinny girls are fine – I don’t want to praise one type by shitting on another – but I like big girls better.

I like girls that when you press into their bodies you feel the warm flesh pressing back. I like big thighs and big breasts and big chubby kisses that make you forget where you’re standing. I like a belly. Bellies are really cute. I like to hold a girl in my arms and feel the fullness of all they have to give. I like to hold a girl in my arms and touch curves. I like to hold a girl in my arms and feel them breathing.

A woman isn’t made of bones and nails, she’s made of soft skin and meat and waters and fats. She’s made of a warmth that you long to keep near you. She’s made of lips that wet your skin with each heavy kiss. She’s made of big thoughts and big destinies and big impressions and a big blinding fire in her eyes that melts the shards of ice in your heart, until your grin starts to drool.


The silent struggle of a half-squashed insect on its back: brainless legs clawing the air. 

Supposedly insects don’t think or feel anything, so I shouldn’t feel guilty for stomping one half to death and watching it twitch for awhile. Supposedly the cockroach knows no unbearable moment of surprise, no sudden passage from life to death, no terror. So I guess it’s pretty stupid of me to feel sad once its legs stop moving.


When Keats was 8, his father fell off a horse and cracked his skull and died. 

When Keats was 14, his mother caught tuberculosis and hacked her lungs out and died.

When Keats was 23, his brother caught tuberculosis and all his insides turned to black suffering and he died.

When Keats was 25, he caught tuberculosis. One of the last things he said was: ‘I shall die easy, don’t be frightened.’


It took me many years to gain the strength and endurance to fuck mountains. I started masturbating with small bags of charcoal and slowly worked up from there.


The finger pointing thing is peculiar to rap music for me. For whatever reason, I don’t do it with other genres. Sometimes when I point fingers I put my thumbs out too, so my hands turn into guns. Then I’m enthusiastically shooting bullets. A really good song to enthusiastically point fingers to is Worst Behavior by Drake. In particular I like the part where he says ‘They used to never want to hear us! Remember? Motherfuckers never loved us!’ That’s when I’m pointing fingers the hardest. 


Sweetheart soon this world will turn from day to dim to dark, and all this love will be a long extinguished flame. That touch, that clinging heat no more. Solid bodies the living wore now dissolved to whirls of unremembered atoms. Your warm hand I once held on the neon Ferris wheel now turned to every other nothing, gone like a parking lot carnival.

I shouldn't worry so much about it. I should try to be more like the sinking sun, steady in my regretless departure. I should let this day fade on its own terms and gladly accept the night with sleep in my eyes.

For many times before I too have felt myself half in love with easeful death. I have read the dead and dying poets. Like Lorca I have seen the crocodile’s patient gaze hidden in the water. I have driven down the highway stoned in no good direction. I have looked into coffins and felt their peace. I have stared up at the night sky and wondered where it ends.

In the midst of life we are in death, like the old saying goes. Death is as regular and ordinary as the rubber in a pair of shoes. One day I'm gonna die and so what, so will everybody else. But it’s hard when I start thinking about all the things I'll have to give away.


One of my favorite things Walt Whitman said was:

See, projected through time, 
For me an audience interminable. 

With firm and regular step they wend, they never stop, 
Successions of men, Americanos, a hundred millions. 

This is from a middle-aged guy who was selling his self-published poetry book door to door in Brooklyn, and ghost-writing his own reviews. I think it’s wonderful that Whitman was full of so much delusion. For me an audience interminable! From the very beginning he was convinced that his poetry would live forever. I think if Whitman had gone his whole life through without a single reader, he’d still die believing that. 

And why shouldn’t anyone believe, and why shouldn’t anyone write as if to a hundred million beating hearts? If it doesn’t come true and you get forgotten like all the rest, big deal. That’s what happens to everyone anyway, if you stretch the timeline out far enough. (And you don’t even have to stretch it far.) There is an incredible kind of hope involved with making art. You send something into the world and no one can say what will happen to it, or where it will go.


I don’t mind reading hateful writers every now and then. Hatred is exciting and it can be funny too. Hatred goes together with love, like light and shadow. Nobody likes to deal with somebody else’s temper tantrum, but there’s a special kind of beauty to an uncontrolled and uncontrollable hatred like that. I like the wildness of it. Have you ever seen a little kid throw a temper tantrum? The contortions and desperate outrages that attend a 4 year old’s tantrum, holy shit. They’re fascinating. It’s like watching a building burn.

Of course, seriousness demands that we admit how poisonous hatred is, and cruel, and hopelessly moronic too. By the end of his life, Celine was publishing 600 page rants complaining about his neighbors and doctors and literary agents. I feel embarrassed for him – this brilliant writer reduced to such a toothless, myopic crank, a cartoonish shell of what he used to be.

But anybody with half a brain already knows this. Everybody knows that you learn more from one unrestrained second of genuine love than you do from decades of studious, well-crafted hate. Or at least we're supposed to know this...the lesson seems lost on a significant portion of the population. Maybe I just spend too much time online.

Last week I stayed up all night writing and when I looked out the window and saw the sky beginning to change colors, I drove to a nearby park with a big man-made hill in the center. Houston is one of the flattest cities I know. If you look out of even a 4th story window, you can practically look down on the entire city at once. Even from the top of that little park hill, I could see everything in every direction. I sat on a bench and watched the sun come up. It was beautiful.

People feel so entitled sometimes – people demand so much that they get disappointed when they don't get it, and the disappointment turns to hate. Some writers say ‘I have high standards’ as if that’s a justifiable excuse for why they treat others poorly and shit on everything they see. That’s how a child acts, demanding fairness in a world that everyone can clearly see doesn’t work that way. Isn’t it enough that the sun rises every morning and the earth is still green, and you have another day.


When I saw Lil B play a show in Houston, about halfway through he took a good look at the crowd and said: “We got a lotta thugs and a lotta nerds in the building” and I knew that he was talking about me because I’m a thug and I look like a thug and I act like one and that's my reputation and it always has been.


A sentimental memory that I keep close to my heart is the time in high school I had to go to some stupid church event on a Friday night, so in silent protest I sat in the back row the whole time and read The Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille.

The Story of the Eye is a French novel about two teenagers that love to have all kinds of freaky violent sex with each other. The novel ends with the two teenagers attacking a priest. First they make the priest drink urine from the holy chalice while the girl jerks him off. Then after he cums, they strangle the priest to death and have sex with his corpse. Then they cut out one of his eyeballs and the girl sticks it up her ass. It’s a great novel, one of the best.

After the service was over, an older lady came over to me and asked me what I was reading. I told her it was a French novel. She said 'That's so cute, I love to see young people reading'


Chris Dankland took a giant bong hit and instantly felt his molecules dissolve in a warm rush. He exhaled all the smoke in his lungs and then he exhaled his lungs themselves, which had also turned into smoke. He watched his legs shrivel up like the Wicked Witch as he exhaled them too. His gaping mouth spewed white smoke like an old time train. He exhaled his torso, his chest, and then his arms and shoulders. Soon he was just a head on the floor...and then he exhaled his head too. He saw a nearby open window and slithered outside, into the wind. Next stop: stratosphere.


when my life is through
and the angels ask me to recall
the thrill of them all
then i will tell them
i remember you


I finally broke my silence when I walked down to the corner store to buy a 20oz bottle of Sprite. The guy who took my money asked if I wanted a bag and I said:

No thanks.