Saturday, April 12, 2008
Most dogs, when they lie down, will circle several times before settling down. For Romanov this number is three. He will circle three times, either clockwise or counter-clockwise, before finally settling down. Snowdoll, however, does not do this. Sometimes she just trots into the room and plops herself down where she wants to lie. Other times, she will sit down and slowly slide either her front half or her back half until she has slid herself into the familiar "turtle" position that seems to be her favorite. It took us weeks to get this on video and although this does give a taste it is not as good as I would like it to be.
I skipped yesterday knowing that today I would share this video with three spoken word peices. The first, the one I most wish to share, is Skinhead by Patricia Smith. I saw her do this in a wonderfully intimate venue just before I had vertigo. We talked. She signed her books for me. And she read a poem of mine which she said was inspiring. Talk about inspiring! When someone who can write something this powerful is inspired by something you wrote . . . how can you stop writing? The other two performers/poets are Dante Basco and Maggie Estep. If you have seen Hook then Basco should look familiar. Estep's poem Emotional Idiot is a piece that I did once at an open mic at a friend's request. It was a success but not as great a success as her other poem Sex Goddess of the Western Hemisphere was for me. :)
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I share this poem, by Maya Angelou, because I once had a professor say that my poetry was better. While flattering, I remain unconvinced and although this is not one of Angelou's better poems this is the one that inspired my professor to give me such high praise.
Phenomenal WomanPretty women wonder where my secret lies. I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size But when I start to tell them, They think I'm telling lies. I say, It's in the reach of my arms The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me. I walk into a room Just as cool as you please, And to a man, The fellows stand or Fall down on their knees. Then they swarm around me, A hive of honey bees. I say, It's the fire in my eyes, And the flash of my teeth, The swing in my waist, And the joy in my feet. I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me. Men themselves have wondered What they see in me. They try so much But they can't touch My inner mystery. When I try to show them They say they still can't see. I say, It's in the arch of my back, The sun of my smile, The ride of my breasts, The grace of my style. I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me. Now you understand Just why my head's not bowed. I don't shout or jump about Or have to talk real loud. When you see me passing It ought to make you proud. I say, It's in the click of my heels, The bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, The need of my care, 'Cause I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Two "stories" for this poem. Really there could be more. Many more. Walt Whitman's Song of Myself is sprawling and dense and just an amazing piece of literature. Here are two parts of this very long poem. 5 I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to you, And you must not be abased to the other. Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat, Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best, Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice. I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning, How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn'd over upon me, And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart, And reach'd till you felt my beard, and reach'd till you held my feet. Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth, And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own, And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own, And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers, And that a kelson of the creation is love, And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields, And brown ants in the little wells beneath them, And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap'd stones, elder, mullein and poke-weed. In a different English course, we read parts of this poem and mentioned something about Whitman's homosexuality. Several people in the class argued that I didn't know what I was talking about so I pointed out this particular section and asked, "If you take one hand to touch a man's beard and reached your other hand to touch his feet, where would your face be exactly?" That pretty much ended that debate/discussion. 51 The past and present wilt — I have fill'd them, emptied them, And proceed to fill my next fold of the future. Listener up there! what have you to confide to me? Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening, (Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.) Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab. Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through with his supper? Who wishes to walk with me? Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late? I often quote the third stanza of this section because I feel like I do contradict myself. As I get older, my understanding of myself and my life is constantly changing. What I believe today may be meaningless tomorrow. What I say I know now I will be convinced is false an hour from now. There is also an audacity and vulnerability in these few stanzas that blow me away.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Wild nights! Wild nights! Were I with thee, Wild nights should be Our luxury! Futile the winds To a heart in port, Done with the compass, Done with the chart. Rowing in Eden! Ah! the sea! Might I but moor To-night in thee!This poem by Emily Dickinson is one of my favorites. I was introduced to it in college when a professor asked what the poem was about. More than one student discussed the spiritual imagery, referenced Dickinson's frequent death imagery in her other poems and how this was obviously about death and . . . the professor turned to me, even though I had not raised my hand. What, he asked, does this poem say to you, Satia? Well, if you ask me, it's about sex, I said without hesitation. It's amazing that my profs ever called on me for my opinion on anything, all things considered.
Monday, April 07, 2008
I was talking to someone about Ginsberg and mentioned Beau Sia. They were unaware of Sia's tribute to Ginsberg and I thought I would share it with all of you. If you aren't familiar with Ginsberg's poem Howl then you might want to read at least part of it. It is not necessary, however, to read the entire poem to appreciate what Sia does here. Howl allen ginsberg told me that I was beautiful in a new york city cafe and I thought he was trying to pick me up. you can imagine how arrogant chinese boys in new york get about love when old gay white men are involved. exactly eleven months later, he died. the distance between point A and B can be measured in days, but friendship hates math and so the sum of experiences between two people is not a sum, it's eating blintzes under trees, learning how cezanne liked to color and sitting in bed, debating the value of failure in one's life, and seeing allen read one last time in front of 680 NYU kids that had no idea he would spend the next week in boston starting his negotiations with death. my friend is dead and I don't know how to approach the subject. my generation has no starving, hysterical nakeds. I'm a member of the fame whore, superstar-at-any-cost-we- could-give-a-fuck- about-a-fuck-because-teen-angst-isn't-enough-anymore-our- self-absorbed- natures-have-overkilled-into-egomaniacal-dynamo-rage-club and we don't know the first thing about the words "selfless" or "give." I mean, fuck the fact that he's gay, a beatnik, and that even I get bored with his poetry, the ginz made tibet a cause to believe in, he pushed the angry buttons of politicians for four decades, and he set fire to one hundred and thirty-seven million minds in this world, becoming lou reed, bob dylan, billy borroughs, and my answer to the question "who has influenced you in this life?" sure, some days he came off as an asshole, but most of us aren't caught in the public eye enough to be caught in our asshole moments. but for each of those asshole moments there is a simple beauty of him cooking mushroom omelettes, and him exposing me to buddhism (a culture my ancestors taught him), and his wiley, old man eyes correcting me and saying, "you have a long way to go if you want to be a good writer." don't try and dull my memories of him at point A I ran with his mind in a 13th St. loft because his legs were no longer capable of adventures on foot, to point B when I sat silent by the phone, listening to him say four days before his death that he thought he had another month. point B to point C is a distance I'm not sure I'll ever reach, as I try to find straight lines, reading his work in Barnes & Noble, and remembering how he talked about his first connections to kerouac with a certain reverie, and I don't know if I'll ever realize the scope of the words "death" or "good-bye," but I'm getting that little ache under my ribcage from loss and the need to finally tell a friend, "I love you." I first heard this poem back in 1999 or possiby 1998. Later I bought a book because it had the text version of this piece and I wanted to be sure to have it forever. This is not the first time I have blogged about this poem. It may not be the last.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
HygieneI understand, sure, hygiene, these days, if you’re not paying attention, with all these sicknesses, you think I’m not aware? I’m not saying not to bathe, are you crazy? you don’t want to wash? I’m just saying to not go overboard, because there’s clean, that’s fine, but not clean and shiny, it’s just that people now, bath foams, bath salts, a bar of soap’s not good enough, no, instead, sometimes, by washing too much, some things even get lost, the other day, there was one lady, I didn’t know her, even if you tell me her name, she’s not from here, she’s from Rimini, we had met each other by chance, two months ago, then we met again, but it’s not like now I’m wanting, I’m just telling you to give you an idea, it was Tuesday afternoon, at her house, her husband was away, she started to unzip me, she was wearing a dressing gown, we’d been drinking, we’d danced, then we went to bed, she climbed on top of me, sssh! And today is Thursday And I still smell her, do you understand?
By Raffaello Baldini (translated by Adria Bernardi)This poem appeared in Poetry Dec 2007. I read it through several times, marveling at the eroticism. I am still stunned by this poem even after typing it out. Such perfection.