Wednesday, July 26, 2017

a poetry reading


Photo: Jon Buchinsky


It's dark. Too crowded. It's impossible to hear. Too small. I am sweating. Too hot. I am crying off and on. But no one notices.

I was hoping for drinks to drown in. I only brought a splash of whiskey. It's not enough.

A slight, queer looking skinhead gets up and introduces the event. He talks about poetry and zines. And then people start to read from their work. It's intimate and sweet. I don't understand what people are saying, for the most part. A poem read live is often about beats and textures more than what it “means.” I let go of trying to make sense of things.

I start to feel drowned in the longing of the performances. Little underground dreams that will never see the lights of fame. Each, a center in a tiny Copernican universe.

And I want to cry out with everyone else even though I am not a poet. Even though everything I write is in another language, and surely, only a couple of people could hear me even if they could hear me. But I don't care. I ask the slight, heavily tattooed mc if I can read, even if no one understands. He says I'll put you on the list, before I am committed. I panic. I am Schopenhauer's gazelle being eaten. But it's too late. I can't back out.

I am so afraid. I haven't done this in 20 years or more. I pull my skirt down a little and grab my phone and walk to the center of the room. The girl before me, played guitar and sang and broke everyone's heart with how beautiful it was.

And I say a few things. And I read this:

I'm sitting on a balcony overlooking another morning
after another sleepless night
after I opened my eyes when I heard the chirp chirp of the few birds
that still live in the walls

you fade
into the distant buildings on the horizon
barely there through
smog and horns and trucks

there have been only
a few others
of you:
a model in Paris, a punk in Oakland . . .
others I have forgotten. I've told you about them. How they haunted the bodies,
the hundreds
of lovers who came after
the curve of a foot, the shape
of an eye, a floppy ear, a birthmark, all these
dismembered parts lingering on all these
other cocks and cunts and screams.

and then you: an otter, a blue bird, the ocean, a dream. I'm groggy.
Probably still drunk from all of our nights before. I'm not seeing clearly. I can't
make you out anymore. You
are just bridges and freeways and the high-rise blocking the sun

please come back, please be real
I don't want to start another terrible
search party,
with cadaver dogs, through
the ruins
of hundreds of other lovers


And people clap. And I feel like running away. And I know what it means, even if no one else could:

That ingenious and lovely things are gone.
That we had many pretty toys.
That days are dragon-ridden. 

That I thought I knew
how it would end. Instead I
dream every night of her bare feet
and kicks to my face and chest, and her slight hands beating me. I thought she was going
to gouge out my eyes.
And still I cling to her ankles, like I did when dad left for work, and
she says she's going to throw herself from a window
and accuses me of hurting her
and calls the police
when I try and save her life

Now
I dream
of a cheap
motel room
with someone I don't care about, and a strap around my neck.
I'll pay them to put my
cunt in their mouth
to leave my note on the bed. I don't want to hurt them, but I don't want
to have to die
alone



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