Friday, November 21, 2008

Mary Anne

I read this at my school's open mic last night. There is certainly a lot of talent at Marlboro. I'm beginning to think that I measure up!

Mary Anne, you are my favorite lover
you read from your book of poems, your poison thick as honey and
as hard to swallow as bile
and after reading a linguistic murder weapon sick enough
to rival Plath and kill her twice
you look up at me with that immediate, casual smile, like
"but of course I don't feel that way anymore, darling
wasn't I a sad silly girl."
your tongue, six split swift and licorice-licked by those
cloves you smoke and the
pencil end you chew on as you work
finds the salt on my skin and you mine, mine, mine.
and your eyes have just the faintest yellow
and the faintest amber
and the sickest, most silvery blue
your hands are like rain on my manhood
you dampen and soften and soak me, soppen and pour yourself
demasculate me and make me Adam on a different night
in a different bed
you are nines and elevens
you are more myself than anyone else
and in conversation you please and defend and offend all
in arguments you tear off the skin of your opponents
you argue in the painter's bars and spend obnoxious hours in
the bathroom primping
you pimp out your ideas
and you are New York
you swivel your hips like a TV King when you fuck
and you are all the sex of back Memphis
and all the fucking trash of LA
you are inside of me and Inside of you I want nothing but you
tracing chalkmarks of the disturbed dead on my skin with that
reaching, retracting, retracting, seeking feeling tongue

The voice posts are absolutely coming. Not in the next week, though! My darling is coming to visit.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I'm all for anything that makes art collecting more accessible to those with limited budgets. "20x200" sells small-sized prints of charming works at $20 each.

Found at kottke.

New, improved and ineffective

The line breaks are displayed incorrectly in the following poem as well, this time due to my layout. Hm. Perhaps the "artist" overthinks such things, and you will all enjoy my poetry just as much as if the appropriate line breaks were preserved. As Oscar Wilde said, "I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again." However, I am inclined to think that Oscar Wilde was making an extremely important revision both times!

new, improved and ineffective. loved. yellow yarn.
engendered and defended by commas or hoardes and hoardes of full and complete stops
bus stop blue and the bench stopped turning
revolving bench
revolving tree
revolving right side of

and how!

the master’s teacup is chipped into a perfect topographical depiction of new hampshire.
i ski it on the andes side

EDIT: Oh, God, looking at the last stanza as three lines instead of two, with New Hampshire jutting out on its own like some grotesque version of the formerly-intact Man in the Mountain make me so sad for my bastardized creation! I am amused at my perfectionism.

I was born today three-hundred years from now

It looks like Blogger will mess up the line breaks a little bit for this one. Ah well!

I was born today three-hundred years from now
of an atom and an eon on the verge of collapse
one triplet of three surviving, thriving sperm
a baby spread beef-like, dripping juicy and fresh, unappetizing
arranged as part of three on white paper hospital sheets
crinkling our arrival like so many royal trumpets blasting

I’ve grown old, my face is nice suede
folds on face and neck wrinkle and hide nooks of flesh
that wait alone, blind to the sun: the sun which brought my skin to such a prime state of puppy face wrinkling
I am the christmas present bulldog
with fold upon fold of
wrinkles and jowls denoting wise elder status

along with the sun beams,
my age spots and facial creases count other causes:
sleepless nights during which I just could not remember
the fourth line of “Howl” or a different poem
and fancied myself insane; also-
movements, uprisings and revolutions.
they spring up year after year, annual, perennial, flowerless plants pollinated by cash and sowed by
casualties of capitalism
and movers and shakers that would soon become tyrants
women’s. black’s. immigrant’s. women’s again. disabled.
I worried for all of them
til my lungs turned black out of chronic anxious smoking
tried to quit and see a therapist instead
it was even more expensive.
I sold my TV and have felt better ever since.

Revolutions come in smaller scales
some I went through all on my own
These were the Nourishment Revolutions:
born, I drank only breast milk,
first from the tit of my mother or the milkmaid
I weaned early
because my mother needed anti-depressants again,
and the milkmaid was stealing from our house.
so my two brothers and I
revolutionized and drank the same milk from fake nipples-
later an uprising occurred
and my baby teeth joined forces
to organize, revolt
and decompose the structure of solid foods
it went on like this for quite awhile
until the bourgeois came out of patient waiting
and seized my kidneys and stomach in a vengeful war.
now I am back to mush and milk,
and diapers at that
but I maintain a few teeth to soothe my pride.

I cannot wear dentures with those gnarled-end canines jutting out of elderly gums,
the structure of false teeth demand a valley-smooth slate
but I find the absence of solid food worth it
my steady-standing teeth are relics of younger days

curdled brain cells!
I can see you now
laid out on egg shell colored bed sheets
in a Dartmouth autopsy room
or else under a glass dome for observation
a snowglobe which medical students lean over
like children .
oh will their expressions reflect the same wonder
that darling faces light up with on christmas eve,
peering into those half-spheres of glass?
snowglobes swirl with flakes of plastic
but organs under similar domes, well, I hope that they are just as wonderful. they could save a life
if they held the right secrets
and the scientists and students had the key
to discovering them

I was born yesterday
eighty-eight years ago
the one surviving twin, an immediate successor to
my still-born brother Charlie Parker
oh god where have the years gone
too few revolutions and too many
sun spots and slabs of drooping skin…

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Opening Line exploded

Soon I'm going to go through past entries and post audio files for poems that don't have a recording of me reading them. (I'll post links when I do.) Unfortunately I cannot bring myself to read these poems as passionately while sitting in my room as I can when I'm performing for an audience. Ironically, I feel self conscious that my dorm neighbors will hear me! Also, I just can't unleash my emotions as much as I can when I'm actually performing.

I read this piece for a slam two days ago. It may have been my best performance yet! I screamed, I whispered, I put on voices and really gave it my all. I shook like nothing else under the weight of the passion that reading this poem gave me. And all this over a piece that describes a situation that has never happened and probably never will! I don't know how I bring it out in myself.

I'm pleased to report that I did fairly well at the slam, tying for fourth place out of eight in the second round (the one that counts) and tying for first place in the first round. I read the following poem for the first round, and "An Essay On Beauty" for the second.

the opening line exploded
when the curtains drew open and each lip of the unlikely actress parted ways
her voice shot like sparks,
zapped along under-stage wiring and microphones
and reached the audience, whose dresses and suits caught fire.

the sound was sickeningly girlish
yet frighteningly hoarse
and each aristocrat, as they fanned off their singed bustles and
dusted their blackened monocles
could see without imagination
the faraway lips of the painted puppet,
cracked beneath stage lipstick,
blistered with syphilis
pronouncing the words of Desdemona
as though she was still back on Left Street
leaning over car windows and propositioning likely clients

no black sheep amongst the cast,
the prostitute, nay, headliner Veronica May
was at home in the critically-christened “riffraff Shakespeare”
Othello was a Center Street pimp
insistent on draping his plate-gold chains
amongst the Moor’s ruby-gilded sword and African necklaces
talent if the New York stage ever saw it,
was a former bum
(currently put up in a Park Avenue suite)
whose drunken rants and delirious, mystic ramblings
nearly contested the soliloquies he’d been instructed to recite

that audience,
still smoking from the initial burst of flames,
cried at the mastery of the bum,
who they had all seen and ignored on the MoMA steps.
they laughed as the sword fights became impromptu gang rumbles
and sat in awe at the notion that the theater had given hope to
these otherwise hopeless creatures

Each addict, whore, dealer and hustler
had a score of understudies,
as they tended to die regularly.
This was not mentioned in the rave reviews.
New York Times:
“Experimental to the extreme. Such a cast does not outshine the mastery of the play, but displays performances equal to the veterans of the stage.”

count this true:
every unconscious body scraped off the sidewalk and unto an endless journey on a stretcher—
every woman bruised amongst the eyes and bruised along the arm—
every chauvinist dripped in chains and lacking in shame—
is a small-time actor
in pursuit of attention
and they are not discriminating.

Intellect and fancy dress
written reviews and eloquent compliments
erased not the need for heroin or the lifelong self-hatred
but every production went on on schedule
and the audience never noticed
no, no one ever noticed
that they were not lifesavers

One more piece of information about this poem: I submitted it and another piece, "I was born today three-hundred years from now," to the Citizen at the beginning of last semester. This was in my freshman year. Then-editor Gabriel stopped me one day in the Dalrymple hallway and asked if I would like to be on staff. I had applied my first semester, when he apologetically said that there were too many seniors and veteran staff members who applied for him to allow me a position. (Positions on the Citizen are paid and therefore limited) Of course I accepted.

Look at me now, editor-in-chief, and nominated by Gabriel by the way. The November issue is coming out Monday. There was a lot of controversy dealing with this issue, and I had to make some tough ethical decisions. I'll write more on that in a future post.

Let's Talk about Privilege, Baby/Let's Talk About You and Me

So reads a large sign now posted in the Dining Hall. The sign was originally mostly blank, adorned simply by those words and a couple sheets of paper printed off of Nook, the school message board. Though Nook is a private forum, the dining hall is not, and I don't think that resident feminist and all-around awesome person Lily Sage would mind me re-posting her words here:

"There is a myth at Marlboro: we live in an ivory tower in the clouds, where we are above and beyond and able to transcend issues of race, gender and class that are prevalent in our society. We are somehow “counter-cultural” subverters, of what is perceived as the inhospitable and intolerant atmosphere of the dominant culture, which we flee to this hill.

Think about it. Is there an ongoing, reflective dialogue about privilege in our community? Who are the people who live in our community? Is there a disconnect between the theory that we learn in class and the way we conduct ourselves in our interpersonal relationships?

This space has been provided to raise awareness about everyday sometimes veiled and usually unconscious oppression at Marlboro College. By this it is meant that as a community, which is a microcosm of society at large, we are (largely) complicit participants in an institutionally sanctioned and executed hierarchal system of dominance. This dominance manifests itself in many ways. Feel free to list, anonymously or not, and always respectfully, what you’ve noticed. This is a safe space that is open to any member of the community: that is, staff, students, faculty, and anyone else who may stumble upon it."

Now the once-white sheets of paper stapled on the bulletin board have been scrawled on in cherry-scented red marker, and this morning the "Privilege Board" has been expanded to fit the entire bulletin board. The comments range from anonymous to signed, defensive to ashamed, specific to obscure, but there are few to no comments that are simply jokes. And at every meal, there are people that gather around the board, talking seriously and candidly with each other about privilege and personal responsibility, about racism and misogyny, about whatever feels appropriate and uncomfortable. Every so often during our conversations we pick up the marker and write something down on the board. It isn't the same people that gather around the board every time, either.

I've always thought of Marlboro as a liberal place where ideas free flow all the time and discussion is encouraged, but in the past 24 hours the school has really opened up and started talking about things we've been avoiding in our everyday conversations. Nook's really been a place for serious conversation too, both on the privilege thread quoted above and on another thread which deals with an issue really pertinent to the community right now. (I don't feel comfortable talking about it on an open website, but it deals with transparency within the administration among other things.)

At Town Meeting (actually a student/faculty/staff of Marlboro meeting, bi-monthly) we did something other than vote on funds requests and talk about changes of legal language in our school Constitution andf Bylaws. The president and political science prof set aside some time for us to discuss, as a community, what we should do to self-reflection alive. The privilege board was brought up- I think it may have been the inspiration for the discussion.

It's incredible how Marlboro has changed in the past day or so, from being something that I thought it was to something that I now know that it is: a place of self-reflection and true consciousness. I just wonder when these discussions will turn into real change, and how. Today I received an email about the photo prof's friends on a reservation in South Dakota losing power and heat, and were burning their possessions in order to stay warm. I gathered up a good deal of my money and trekked over to John's office so he could send it in with the money that he would be mailing them. Would I have done this two days ago? Maybe; I am an altruistic person, and every so often I give money to charity. But would I have given so much money in relation to the amount I actually have? Maybe not.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Beautiful Campus

The photo blog of my good friend Amanda is dedicated to snapshots of the Marlboro College campus. To celebrate the beauty that this little hill holds, here are a few photos of my own: