bfs #1

at church they gave the impression
that a woman could go to hell
if her hair wasn’t done,
her stockings had a run
or she wasn’t dressed like patti labelle

miss lady #13 in a series

Once I was in Brighton (pause) the beach, you know. It was stormy that day. He didn’t want to go but I made him take me there. (pause. She now imitates an older, upper class englishman) “I can’t see the road yet you speak only of your hair. I so love you.” (she sighs, shakes her head and rolls her eyes as if to say what a dork – she drops the accent). All I’d said was “Shit, I wish I’d brought a hat.” But of course he spent the whole way there obsessing on that. (pause) The house in London was huge but the rooms were so small. I needed to breathe again. (pause) We made it to the beach and parked. How the hard rain beat against his car. He wanted to wait until the storm had died down a bit. Boring. He made a stupid observation about the sound of the rain hitting metal. Something about it sounding like hundreds of small steel drums. That sort of business used to work on me. Boring. “I’m getting out” I said. But as we exited the the storm stopped cold. Brighton Beach fell silent. The air smelled fresh and yet strangely…old. But there were no screeching gulls. No boats. No sea foam. And I was excited to be so far from home. All you could hear was the churning of the ocean. And for a minute I so enjoyed entertaining the silly notion that I could stare all the way across the Atlantic and wave to Brooklyn. I imagined all fourteen of them at Coney Island…lined up side by side at the water’s edge…instruments dangling from their necks…rocking their heads to a private rhythm… and waving back at me… Serenading me. And I smiled directly at each one of them from across the roaring Atlantic. And I couldn’t hear their song. And I didn’t care. That was a free and beautiful minute. Then I looked down at the sand. Then looking back up I could not tell where the ocean ended and the sky began. It was all a roaring towering wall of gray. And it made me sick. And then without a word to him I turned and ran away. And I didn’t fuck him that night.

what kind of music does your family play?

(not really responding to the question but sort of) They play beautifully together. They sound like a family, you know? There’s a brutally psychic quality about their jamming, you know?…it’s seamless…it’s southern, really… funky, you know?

What do you mean by “brutally psychic”?

What? Did i say “brutally”? Ha! I meant to say utterly…utterly psychic, yes. They know what each other are going to play before they play it! Brutally in-fucking-deed!! Ha! Ha! Ha! (pause as laughter fades slowly into a smile which fades slowly into a composed trance – then back to something that looks like normal…) Anyway, their music gets so loose, so funky sometimes that it can get…(looks as if she’s found the word but hesitates cuz she thinks she’s gonna sound crazy)…it can be…like sometimes – not all the time, mind you – but sometimes the music – and really, not all the time but sometimes…like on holidays and three day weekends… the music almost seems like its…yer gonna think I’m crazy…I guess its too late for that right, ha ha! Never mind. Later. OK fuck it — I was just gonna…I was just going to say – sometimes the music they make sounds like it’s warning them…like they are taking it too far. (long pause). And thats when they all start smiling. (she is not smiling) They have a smile, you see. A smile all their own. I have never smiled that smile. It’s a musician’s smile. Its theirs alone. They smile like that when the jam reaches the edge of the abyss and they’re all looking down into it and then they look up at me and I’m floating over their abyss and they’re all smiling directly at me and I’m mostly terrified in those moments floating above their abyss when I’m ten years old in the middle of the living room floor grinning and whirling from the beginning spinning my ballet class moves mid air hovering over the complex mouth of their southern abyss surrounded by rusty strings and the smellsound of bangingburning woodmetal moldyamps a dustyfenderrhodes and then the overdivenguitar explodes…I’m terrified of this song – there’s too much in it. I can see into this abyssong. Don’t let me fall in it. I’m floating over it yesterday and now in pink ballet slippers. And I’m not smiling. Because that abyss isn’t mine. I don’t have one…yet.


bell…the corporations and nature.

no no no no no, my people are GHETTO, the poet screamed over the music in a palo alto bar…this was last winter and then she laughed authoritatively and screamed it again this time LOUDER pointing to herself MY PEOPLE ARE GHETTO now grabbing my upper arm for emphasis just like bell hooks did 15 years ago in brixton after i’d mustered up the courage to approach her…oh when bell hooks grabbed my arm and squeezed it some wicked electricity raced through my being and the buzz drowned out the wisdom of the two or three or four sentences she’d composed for my whisper hungry ears alone and i fell even deeper in love with her…which i didn’t know was possible…i can still feel her grip…(i find the memory of this brief exchange in some small way political)…and then my friends teased me after saying bell is a lesbian and i don’t remember what i said then because i was only thirty…but today i would say “good”…for if you can fall in love without the promise of sex you are advanced…calling biological determinism into question i.e. the human impulse to fuck and have kids and shop at ikea, is as noble as questioning capitalism…and equally problematic…it’s david vs goliath…and if david misses, goliath will fuck his shit up. literally. since we’ve already taken the natural impulse to breed and exploited/distorted/perverted it with beer commercials and breast implants one could do worse than take a minute to think about taking back sexlove from both the corporations and nature. for it seems nature and the corporations are our biggest oppressors. i’m sure some french philo has said all this in a way fancier way but those dorks can’t write songs so fuck em…bell probably talked alot about oppression on that brixton night…she left an impression on me and my arm…i was a familiar accent amid an afterparty backdrop of spirited english socialists… YOU DON’T KNOW GHETTO LIKE I KNOW GHETTO – I’M TALKING COUNTRY GHETTO the palo alto poet screamed and screamed again laughing like a blood thirsty maniac now…you know how people laugh when you realize they are enjoying the conversation far more than you are? i sat through the rest of this movie wishing she were bell in brixton 15 years ago. only i’d wanna be 45 instead of 30 cuz then I’d have something to say while i gripped HER arm…

if you hear me…

words written after watching a wonderful doc on the praying mantis

Dear Praying Goddess,
The Practical
And practically useless,
Can only laugh
And salute you

The game is over
Sweet statuesque friend
And in our simple, single minded way
We’ve lost our heads again

The boys and I nod
Our naked, flowing necks,
In unison
To the gruesome poetry
Of your sensible carnage
Squirming on stools
To the curiously seductive rhythm
Of your close mic’d chewing
On our empty thoughts

Green Goddess of Everlasting Love!
We boys of the bar salute you!
Oprah and her housewife lovers
Can only dream of such big eyed wisdom

For you see us
As you call us
Your gaze completes us
And your definition meets us
More than halfway.

And we toast you aggressively
From safe within our beer commercial
Knowing full well
You got our number