Saturday, March 28, 2009

Say My Name, Um, I Mean, Say Your Name

Got another one last night.

Writing Erotica

A tongue otherwise occupied can't tell tales.
Twin hungers: To touch or to hover,
Framing the picture. I'm not above
Taking notes. Sometimes the inclinations tangle:
Which do I obey? To the two sides of
Every story, the moment or the memory,
It's not just a time-honored device but inevitable
To add a third. Always a welcome arrival.
Could I give her your name?
The reader, the witness, flows into her own
Pleasure and writes herself
Out of that moment. So it sways,
What is, what is told, cup to cup,
And not a drop is lost but to the air,
And that becomes the rain
And fills the cup again.

Don't imagine there's no technique involved.
The honest construction of momentum,
Obstacle, delay, completion, enlivened
By the immediacy of remembered detail.
But you have to start somewhere. Like they say,
Write what you know.

Jacob, a man of experience, wrestled
The Angel of creative power, on and on,
For hours and hours. A man I know of painted
The scene of that struggle, and ran away--
On another island, he lived to fight another day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In Like a Lion

I guess eventually I'll write one to go with all of them, major and minor arcana.

The Judgment Card

Why, you! And here I thought you
were dead. Across a crowded room,
What's new, probably she was bored,
All that. There's nothing like a glimpse
Between the gilded pillars, between the stems
Of those huge exotic blooms, the pricey trumpet
Lilies of the kind I didn't think we'd see again.
Nor those rich robes, so fresh. I see them
Swirl around her ankles as the chains fall away.
Oh roar away, and clash a cymbal or so.
What I'm listening for is her breath,
Filtered through nicotine, drawing down,
(She breathes his need, you know. No blood
For that vamp. All it takes is a whisper
Of despair, and she's there!) Oh blow;
The lion, the lamb, the lily, the rose,
The stage, all set; the revelation, yes,
And the wings, poised to lift
Those who lie to new life.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pardon Me, Boy

I hate the Connecticut coach. He ought to go work for AIG. Go Chattanooga.

Wash, FSU, Gonzaga with a z, Louisville.

UPDATE: Christopher Walken's Twitter!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Your Weekly World News

This is a partial list of the people on this earth who, I believe, were/are actually space aliens or beings from some alternate universe. Feel free to add your votes.

Oscar Wilde
Harriet Tubman
George Washington
Isadora Duncan

I got to thinking about Wilde because of St. Patrick's Day. As my one allowable prejudice, I have taught my daughter this nationalistic, jingoistic, party line: The Irish are the greatest writers in the whole world.

The Miley Cyrus/Radiohead "feud" may make my daughter's head explode. She likes both. So do I. I listened to "Pyramid Song" in labor.

A guy I know reported that Miley was wearing a Sonic Youth t-shirt during a show setup, and people threw down all over his Facebook comments, disrespecting her, saying how dare she, she couldn't really like Sonic Youth! My take: If Thurston Moore can like Karen Carpenter, why can't Miley Cyrus like Thurston Moore? I'm gonna get even more Camille Paglia here and start going into how Miley Cyrus plays adolescent female identity politics--Hannah can be sharp and sexy and mysterious, while Miley must be goofy and gangly; Hannah can drive, Miley must walk; Hannah is independent and talented, Miley gets a family and's a training ground for how a woman must segment herself according to assigned roles, right?

Look. Miley Cyrus is not allowed to fail, to be a loser, to recognize ambiguity or subtlety in any form; she is forbidden to deal with anger, loss or pain in her music; she cannot rail, she cannot scream, she cannot be a feminist, she cannot have a sexual identity of any kind or she will risk her own and her family's livelihood, she will disappoint everyone. She is a factory, a CEO, a religious devotee in her terribly, frighteningly restricted life and stunted art.

Thom Yorke, please, she has so very little in her life. You could be kind.

UPDATE: There are all sorts of flashing police lights outside my window as I write this. DH gets home with the news: Someone has left an "unidentified case" outside of Fannie Mae. Somebody's scared somebody's letting that Populist Outrage get the better of them, hmm?

Photo: Poets' Graves.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Madoff Trial Over; The Trial of Maria P. Continues

A gaggle of some thousands of MBAs R Us trip in, steps ahead of the peasants with the torches.

"Can you tell us what to say so they'll give us the rest of their money?"

"They don't have any money."

"They can borrow it, and then give it to us. Write something we can tell them to make them do it."

"I don't know if I can."

"If you don't, I'll tell my daddy to tell your boss to fire you, bitch," hisses one.

They chain me to the computer with the straps of their big ugly handbags, worth more than I have made in months, and tape a health insurance card to the screen, for motivation. Because they understand employee compensation. They know what motivates and sustains employee efforts.

"What do you do for people?" I ask. A young master pauses in his labors of mixing a pitcher of sweet, fruit-flavored cocktails long enough to suck in his gut and snort in my direction.

"What do you mean?" another asks.

"People won't give you money unless you can show you can do something for them," I gasp, trying to sit up. "I don't know what to write. I need something to go on."

"We don't have to DO anything," one says.

"We analyze the environment and shape action-oriented strategies that get results!" one crows.

"We deliver solutions! We're comprehensively solutions-focused!" roars another.

"But what do you do?" I ask. "What do you do for the money?"

"We deserve it!" another snips. "We're smarter than you! We're smarter than anyone! We're the smartest ones in the room!"

"What do you make, what do you give, what do you do--" One shoves his tie into my mouth to silence me. I notice it's a knockoff.

A woman begins, with the tip of her perfectly manicured index fingernail, to carve into my skin my health insurance group number. A man joins her, carving with a sharpened key to his Lexus. They etch the number, over and over, deeper and deeper, into my flesh. They get results.

Photo: From Greenaway's Pillow Book; a more pleasant prospect.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mix Tape

I can't stop listening to the radio, even on days like this, when I hit the buttons and get Kansas, Eagles, T-Pain, Rascal Flats, NPR Airbag. Mrat. The best station in the city is WHUR, but as much as I like Michael Baisden, I wish they had more locals on, and sometimes I'm just not up for all that Quiet Storming. Internet radio is a touch better. DH usually has KCRW all around the house, but when I get up early to make the pancakes, I turn to the Technicolor Web of Sound psychedelia, which even replays ads from the old days (Cream doing a beer ad, speed kills, etc.). And of course I enjoy DJ Booger X, Tuesday nights 7-10--who doesn't?

But when you go back, way back, back to the time of Bertha Butt and the Butt Sisters...there was Radio Mitch, which was actually a series of cassette tapes, mix tapes, that he made just for a small army of acquaintances. I don't even remember how many there were, but BA found an old one and put it on a CD for me and I've been listening to the first two songs on it ever since. That's because it comes out as all one track, so I have to keep going back to the beginning, because I don't even want to go past the second song, because it is ELEKTRA by THE REIVERS, and I really, really, really used to love that song.

Except I can't remember where or when.

I know it. I know the words, I know the bassline--maybe I learned it once? But I don't remember where or how or when I heard it, when I must have heard it over and over. The years from 1976 to 1990 have two things in common--I own blurred memories and I didn't own a television. At some points I didn't have a stereo or even a radio, sometimes just an AM one in the car (used to love WOL), sometimes just a little portable picnic player, as Alex would call it, to play cassettes. A lot of people (save for BA, who bailed me out a couple times; I ever win Powerball, she gets half) don't get how poor I was then and how crazy the work was. The work + school together later was tough, but the starting out work the first time I left school was the worst. Whenever I think about getting laid off I get flashbacks to the employment office woman telling me I had to wear more makeup and cut my hair and dress more professionally, and there I was sitting in the new black suit, $40 from Dress Barn, $40 of rent money, and that sweet, sweet saleswoman who said so reassuringly that "black worsted goes with everything, it's so versatile." Shoulder pads. Me wearing it with the thrift store blouses. Trying to stretch out birth control pills over a day and a half because I couldn't afford them, and getting pregnant, and the car breaking down, and hitching to work, and the miscarriage, the bad one that landed me in the hospital, and my parents coldly and angrily bailing me out, and, as I recovered, my mother taking me for a haircut.

One's tempted to despise the 80s, but they gave us Joan Didion's The Last Thing He Wanted, which I dipped into the other night to find a description of the Omni Mall in Miami, which I used to live next door to, in the late 90s when it was long past its glory, and got stuck in--the book, I mean, not the mall, but sometimes in that haunted castle built on powder, too. Check this out: "It is hard now to call up the particular luridity of 1984." And: "I see now that there will be no Resolution Trust to do the workout on this particular default, but I did not see it then. Not that I shouldn't have. There were hints all along, clues we should have processed, sifted for their application to the general condition. Try the day we noticed that the banks had called in the paper on all the malls, try the day we noticed that somebody had called in the paper on all the banks..."

It's scary. It's about reconstructing a version of events. Out of the odd details you can remember clearly.

But goddamn, what a great song. "From sultry....I got you on my mind, in all soft-talking time..." Why do I know it? Did I use that phrase in a headline? "Sober, to sultry." Did someone make me a mix tape called that? Did I make someone a mix tape and call it that? Will I regret asking these questions? But I like the song. When I heard it, my heart lifted. Did I lose a good memory?

Image: I used to love that comic, too.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Big Hard Green Globes

With the Miami Herald on the shelf at the Dollar Store and the Sun-Sentinel limboing lower now, it is up to Gourmet magazine to do (excellent) investigative reporting on slavery in Florida's agricultural business. You might avoid certain strawberries as well; the people who pick them are prone to having children with tragic birth defects.

I don't buy out of season, and I try to stick to local. But there are folks, some related to me, who live not far from Immolakee who say that by doing so I am harming farmworkers more, that these people want these jobs, that they're grateful for them. (They say worse things, but I'm not quoting those.) I say, I don't want to enslave and poison people and I'm not grateful to be able to play a part in it, so what about MY needs?

Again the fallacy that the only solutions are those we've experienced, that we can't envision anything new.

It was about this time last year that I forced DH to leave the relations during our vacation and go with me to Lake Okeechobee, because I wanted to see where Zora Neale Hurston had written about and I wanted to hike part of the levee around the lake. Despite some health problems at the time, I found some beauty there: strange birds, long flat stretches of swamp, dragonflies mating in mid-air. But the lake bottom is riddled with arsenic; in drought, it catches on fire; in floods, it fills with farm runoff and massive fish kills follow.

ON ANOTHER topic...

This is in honor of Nathaniel Mayweather's impending nuptials. Yay, Fancy Lad! We like seeing you so happy. (You HAVE TO watch at least until the "grab the butt" part.)

I didn't write for a while because I was in a killer depression. Then I heard yesterday a "this day in rock history" item about Janis Joplin being fined for obscene language onstage in Tampa, and I thought, bitch, the least you can do in her honor is get out of bed and go use some obscene language. On whatever stage you can find.