DRAWINGS BY SANDYE RENZ
NONSTOP Marion Winik drawings by Sandye Renz
CEDAR ROCK PRESS New Braunfels, Texas
Cover Design by Sandye Renz and Anne Sherwood
1981 by Marion Winik
ORDER FROM: CEDAR ROCK PRESS 1121 Madeline New Braunfels, Texas 78130
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data: Winik, Marion Nonstop New Braunfe Is. TX: Cedar Rock Press 8104
ISBN 0-930024-13-3 This book has been produced with the support of the Texas Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. a Federal Agency.
for Jane, Hy, and Nancy Winik, who taught me about nonstop love.
2 4 6 8 9 13 15 19 21 25 29 30 32 35 36 37 38 39 40 43 44 47 49 51 56 59 61 63 68
Foreword The Role of Intellectuals in Times of Revolu Mnemonic Device Definitions Maiden Voyage Sunbathing at the North Pole Visit to a Border Town Texas Heat Wave KKL-565 This Is Roy's Taxi in Austin, Texas Streets Just Disappear in this City Harvest of Values The Perfect Holiday Country I Think I Know Why You Sent Me This Machete But I'm Already Weightless Humanoid From Houston Blues In Shadow Foreign Exchange Last Night Calculations C My Name Is Carolyn The Clinking Sound of the Knife Three True Stories Narrative How I Got Here L'Education Sentimentale Winter Sols tice Creative Stress: a self help manual There Are No Gentle Machines Detachments When There Are Two
Pinpoint the response. Track it down. Wash its hair. Do not pre-select. Edit only as inevitable. Watch for flash frames. Take them out. Out for a walk. Allow them to swim in the river. Pray for rain. Be solicitous of other people's health. Neglect your own. Ask the doctor nicely but firmly to prescribe drugs. Ignore the recommended dosage. When you tire of them sell the resq to high school students. Use the proceeds to purchase a La-Z-Boy lounger. While reclining, contemplate the future. This should take no more than ten minutes. When finished, or when the limit is reached, stop. Now berate yourself for past mistakes. Allow as much time for this exercise as necessary. Do not be fooled. What seems at first a tedious waste of time quickly becomes something to eat. Something to eat is always welcome. The least frequent guest 2
is the most welcome. Guests and food: these are the essentials. Please do not skimp on essentials. Why do anything halfway? Why do anything at all? Why begin only to lose interest half-way through? There is so little of value. If you can find a decent place to live, take it at face value.. Face value can be increased with attentive care, and the rent will increase proportionally The plagues are innumerable, the pitfalls apparent, and unpleasant rituals will be performed at regular intervals throughout the entire masochistic farce. The significance of the seashells is unclear; their relevance, however, is undeniable.
THE ROLE OF INTELLECTUALS IN TIMES OF REVOLU
View ing the stampede through the window of the bistro: Blowing kisses! Finest wine! Bravo the pro letariat! Vive la masse, she strokes his thigh 0 dream o reve o lution One year she thought of nothing but Che Guevara, followed him all over Mexico, believed them when they said he said THE TRUE REVOLUTIONARY IS GUIDED BY grandes sentimientos de amor grosse Gefiihle der Liebe great feelings of nothing to lose but your Proletarians of the world you have nothing to lose but the world but unite CHERI but your chains don't lean on the glass but you're blocking my view The year before Bobby in Chicago I knew Huey in Frisco, and Leon in Leningrad, out on the back 4
steppe, See, their names tattooed in itty-bitty machine guns Mais oui blade my shoulder this is my fourth revolu
With the din and trample of beasts they woo the dust from the streets They stink of greed, like widows keen for dead men. oh jacques that's grand you always say it best Just as we knew and planned, whisper priests of truth at last the masses are revolting. Who ordered quiche? Did you?
is it time what time is it what real difference between hours in which language do we count are numbers longer in russian does each number mark a dis tance is distance longer in spanish what if the right minute does not speak my language how will i know it will dogs bark at the right time is this the language of dogs and of clocks the only measure of waiting what if they stop if they stop will you stop (only dogs can tell which is the right minute only numbers can measure the distance between will i count more if i count less? then will you count me? count each one of me 6
count my pulse my breath my fingers count my teeth my bones my hair add me to see how big a number i make translate my total into language of clocks sit beside me at night with a stopwatch exactly how rapid those rapid eye movements chant over my body the nine times table teach me the secrets of repeating decimals raise my sleep to the power of two above all protect me from irrational numbers i'm afraid of infinity i'm counting on you
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11,
As if you were a Hindu goddess Dance of the evil-smelling ashes What only you and I know The late decadent era (abbr.) Skiing on pearls and bone To crawl inside your body, and to How much I would charge for a hand job The One Sound If we shared a tooth between us Kali Durga Kali Durga Kali 12, 13. The other three sounds
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 7. 7. 7. 7.
You left your qui It on my bed You left your teeth in my mouth You took all my veins when you left The taste of skin and sweat (Fr.) Saxophone, dulcimer, collar bone A profile of your next-of-kin Taurus, Virgo rising No lingerie at all Seven, seven All the other signs and houses The moon, rising over your wrist.
Tonight I make room in my bed for a stranger, for I am promised to one I did not choos e. This stranger will lie with me all the nights that are left and the bed will be a riverboat; we are sailing to the sea. I have been chosen by the dark one. I wear his moonstone on my finger. I do not know him, did not invent him, I will never see his face. Yet each day in the mirror he claims my body for his own: See, my hair is silver where he touched it last night. Dark husband, you entered my twenty-two year old body like a triumphant prince. I heard your trumpets echo through my bones. The battle was yours before I knew a war was on; before I was born my father sold you my girlhood. Now you send dark ships to fetch me down the deep and endless river and I mus t let go everything I love. I will call the night my hus band; fatigue will be his sign. By the lines in my face I will mark the passing days, 9
by the stiffness in my joints, by the loosening of my skin. By these changes I will please him, and know myself to be his bride. At the hour of our wedding, he will come for me by daylight. I'll look up, inhale sharply, feel a sudden lifting then my heart springs open like a locket full of darkness: into that breathless dark I disappear. Tonight I make room in my bed for the stranger: here is the source the natural beginning. Now all the days are bridges and the night twists beneath them. I must cross on foot, though he sails close behind. At night we lie together, he fills my head with kingdoms, every night I dream of the sea.
SUNBATHING AT THE NORTH POLE
You came with your eyes slanting light like the winter sun in late afternoon. I lay before you, sunbathing naked at the North Pole: taut, blind and frozen stiff waiting for a warmth which was always three months or three continents away and the seasons never changed and the airport was snowed in After a while I couldn't tell north from south Your eyes were a one-way ticket to the northernmost reaches of the Yukon: The plane was leaving in five minutes and you promised you wouldn't wait. I had no time to pack ~he essentials; you said to make do without them. Still, I had to keep getting weighed all the time. You had stringent rules about excess baggage. When we reached magnetic north, you left me lying on an arctic chaise lounge but I couldn't stop shivering long enough to find the center of gravity. Meanwhile, you took all the travellers' checks and set off for another hemisphere. It's very dark here in December My skin is pale as the midnight sun My hair has frozen around my face It forms a kind of igloo All the other tourists are gone now
To Mexico, I think A French boy gave me some cigarettes as they were leaving I'm trying to ration them out so they'll last til you return I will know you're near when I see the northern lights: that brilliant illusion of warmth cold fire on the horizon
VISIT TO A BORDER TOWN
At a bar on the other side, we forget who we are. I sweet-talk the cantador; you play his guitar. We teach the barmaids rock and roll: Come on, baby they cry to the Trim Lopez lookalike, Come on come on baby twist and shout. When Salome tries to kiss you I tell her I'm your wife. I will teach you Spanish. Just repeat after me: Soy muy feliz que tu vinistes. In an apartment on this side, no visas are issued. No foreign tongues are spoken; no borders are crossed. We cherish the familiar, renounce exploration. You will not be the Cortez of my secret Mexico. I sleep beside you like an Aztec princess dreaming of her own ruins and half-seeking them.
El Paso flattens herself between the mountains. She is the sacrifice, sliced open down the front. Interstates snake through her belly. She welcomes the strangers on the bridge then digests them. Everything is exposed and everyone is welcome: that's what the cities say in America. I will teach you English. Just repeat after me: It is our pleasure to serve you. Please pay the waitress.
iii. We meet surreptitiously, looks guarded, voices low. Illegal aliens, we will sleep tonight in the temple but leave it intact. At morning we tiptoe past the altar not stopping to look or be blessed. In an apartment in EI Paso we lie like neighboring countries. Granting only conditional passage, counting bottles at the border, we make sure when we leave to take back everything we brought. You say, do not eros s thi s line if you are carrying fruits or vegetables. I te 11 you again, you are welcome in this temple. But I will not teach you the litanies, and you must never try to learn them. You are a tourist, not a conquerer. You seek access, not surrender. The Rio Grande flows down the middle of this bed. She whispers all night: Soy muy feliz que tu vinistes.
THE TEXAS HEAT WAVE
The Texas Heat Wave broke over my body as if I was a beach, and could take it. The heat wave shortened our lives, it shortened our hairdos, it shortened our sentences, great novels were struck down when no more than tiny phrases, by August, nothing was left of the lawn. The summer reeled by like an insane home movie one pointless scene after another People walking abruptly in and out of the room smiling like idiots, never in focus Decisions were hasty, judgments were snap It was too hot to argue I never said no the heat made me easy The heat was white it swallowed all colors the days were bleached there was no night to speak of We had to get up at five to drink coffee before sunrise The heat was the excuse for everything that happened Nothing happened anyway A few car accidents, a long distance phone call, a lady in high heels died in the desert, made the front page every day for a week Everything senseless was violent Everything violent was senseless Air conditioning was thorazine Those who did not have it broke beer bottles over each other's heads The Texas Heat Wave turned the entire state into an Intensive Care Unit Anyone who could afford it was at the airport leaving for Boston
The rest were driving nowhere with the windows down having car accidents It was desperation I tell you, even I was half-crazy with thirst, with exhaustion, with lethargy, with lust: I dreamed I wore long pants in the daytime Insects ruled the earth. They commandeered the food supply and would not let us sleep. Willing slaves, we did nothing without orders. Only showers came from the heart.
KKL-565 THIS IS ROY'S TAXI IN AUSTIN, TEXAS
i. iIZQUIERDA AQUI! iPOR FAVOR, IZQUIERDA! shouts the taller one frantically across the front seat. Under a cowboy hat his side kick is silent: His outlaw eyes follow the slide of Joe's hand up my thigh. iDERECHA! iRIO RITA! i AQUI, EL VALLEJO! The meter clicks syncopated east-side rhythm ninety cents one thirty a four dollar run Keep it low there buddy, we could get busted. Street light flash slanted through windshield Switchblades of light sunk into the dash Cruising nameless bars on numbered streets Looking for ladies to do it for cash. 11.
Joe and me, we spend mornings at the Minitmart drinking coffee and reading papers in the taxi. Weekends we put the dogs in the pick-up and get us some huevos rancheros. At midnight our coach turns back into a jalapeno pepper and seven shiny cockroaches replace the seven liveried footmen. They lead us, single file, to the kitchen where they disappear under the sink.
iii. (the dispatcher lullaby) 1910 willow the stop-n-go at south firs t and oltorf
under the canopy at highland mall under the interstate at cameron road freddie's place joe's place craig's place la plaza PICK IT UP, SIXTY-EIGHT PICK IT UP, SEVEN路TWO the green spot the green house the green kash-n-karry
HANDY ANDY south lamar HANDY ANDY on burnet SAFEWAY on riverside on wheeless road on 35 Hurry up, ninety-three, they've got a train to catch Hurry up, seven-seven, the ice cream is melting ROY ROY ROY ROY TAXI TAXI TAXI TAXI
I'm sorry, seven-four, that's the address they gave me that's the address they gave me can you hear me, sixtynine do you read me, eighty-seven
BROWNING BROWNING BROWNING BROWNING
i need a vacant cab at ragsdale west
Yes, eighty-nine, that call was on you pick it up pick him up pick her up pick them up the driskill the austex the hilton the villa in the lobby in the restaurant in the parking lot the ramada downtown the ramada town lake just get on the Mo-Pac and head south south south
Me, watching you in the rearview at the selfserv gas: Wi 11 you bend over me the way you bend over your taxi and fill me and take me where I want to go? My body is at least as smooth and as arched as the hood of your car. Please say you will, and please say you won't run the meter. Stick your tongue in my mouth, number one-ninety-three. Check, ninety-three Pick me up Pick me up
STREETS JUST DISAPPEAR IN THIS CITY,
you said. All the ones we used to know are gone. For this one afternoon we take the same pathnot the street either would have chosen left to herself, but the only one we can both agree will lead to tqe restaurant eventually. You're making this difficult, you said. You're making this unpleasant, I said. Secretly we were both quite content. The streets disappear but we don't, we go on, you in the belted trenchcoat, I in the gray Chinese worker's jacket, underneath them we both wear the memory of matching, of mother-daughter leopard-spotted bathing suits. Back then, we invented streets and they opened up before us. We named them; they sprouted signs and lights as if the constellations were landing all around us. You invented this city so I could be born here. But that was twenty years ago, now the streets are disappearing. They're wearing dark sunglasses, they've changed their names. 25
New York is hiding from us, Mother. She's rolling up her sidewalks, she's going underground. If we don't follow, we'll be abandoned stuck in New Jersey and Texas forever. We'll have to watch Lv. and eat t.v. dinners, we'll never get famous or wear our leopard swimsuits, it's unpleasant, it's difficult, but the streets are disappearing, Mom. Come on. Let's go find them.
HARVEST OF VALUES
In dead of winter a small, desperate band of East Germans sets out to cross the frozen Baltic Sea to Denmark. They pick up the broadcasts of Radio Free Europe through the fillings in their teeth and listen for reports of shots on the border. In Pleasanton, Cali fornia the federal prison guards refuse to let me in to see Squeaky Fromme because I am not a relative. In Brazil and in China and in every third world developing country, they are manufacturing shoes. These shoes do not speak English. According to an article in Newsweek these innocent shoes are threatening to disrupt the entire international market. I will wear these shoes next time I go to Pleasanton Federal Prison. These shoes will protect feet from frostbite when they cross the ice from Hiddensee to Denmark. My father will also wear these shoes when he visits Iran next spring. Still, no one will buy his Cadillac.
i got shoes you got shoes all god's chillun got A full page ad in the paper announces a harvest of values at our local hardware store. Relieved, we pack up our shoes in boxes and set off barefoot for the harvest.
THE PERFECT HOLIDAY COUNTRY
The gregarious Serb on the night coach to Zagreb has the nerve to inform me I don't know the meaning of change. "My father's father was burned alive by men who still live in this town," he roars, "and you are too young and too clean. A nation of novelists, believers in novels, you know neither kinship nor time." His wife eats salami and big yellow pe ppers and changes the subject to Yugoslav art history. She believes in cathedrals, has hundreds of photos, and plenty of time on the train from Dubrovnik to Zagreb to explain each one of them twice. The husband interrupts: "Did you know the Bosnians say fuck your mother instead of hello, still
they build such magnificent churches, believe me they got nothing on the churches of Zagreb, capital of Croatia, and at one time last outpost of Christ against Turks, but still the peasants wear traditional costumes. Nothing changes." he says. "Everything changes," says the wife. "You said so yourself in Montenegro that time. 'The tall mountain folk feel undressed without swords, they believe in moustaches' or so said the guidebook, but change came with war, now they're clean shaven, they travel to Zagreb with automatic rifles." The train jerks and is still, it has stopped in Plitvicke, sleeping so sound you can hear the conductor count change. We have been in this country for two or three weeks now and still we don't understand Serbo-Croatian. Maybe in Zagreb we can make up for lost time. Say molim for please, and hvallah for thank you but do try to sound as if you believe it. That's the thing about Yugoslavia, they believe in believing. In please and in thank you and still in moustaches, in God and in Tito, who will never die or change, in cathedrals and Turks and in time. They believe in the difference between Serbs and Croatians, between Zagreb and Paris, the West and the East. In general, they don't believe in Americans but if you are lucky they'll believe in you too. It takes time; much longer than the train ride to Zagreb and still they're convinced only they know the meaning of change.
I THINK I KNOW WHY YOU SENT ME THIS MACHETE BUT I AM ALREADY WEIGHTLESS Wilderness has been defined by our government as land ten miles from any road or navigable river: Vermont, Montana, and where I live: south of the airport east of the highway north of the river and west of an empty space. Because of a furious blizzard in Chicago and an incorrectly transcribed apartment number the telegram never arrived. Because of Western Union, Because of Bell Telephone, Because of the interstate highway system, You will never hear a word I say. The codes are too simple; They move too fast. Nevertheless someone spent their entire trip to Europe in the post office, waiting for a transatlantic connection. Outside the waiting room window all summer long three buzzards cleaned the bones of a deer.
Increasingly elusive, the muse evades the huntress in caves, in forest, she searches for a sign: tongues on rock to dry in the sun rocks on other rocks to show the trail Keeping on, through deepest brush, even without the machete Believing there are spaces and disciplines inside where the images are brought by Mexican midwives whole and healthy squalling wet
HUMANOID FROM HOUSTON BLUES
I'm a Tarzan from West Texas and I don't like the color pink I'm a masculine man from Midland I'm the mythical Missing Link I'm just a humanoid from Houston and I never ever flinch or blink. Show me路 a woman who acts like a woman Show me a man who can prove he's a man These days you can't tell the difference So take your knee out from under my hand Til you prove you're a woman With all the essential parts. I'm just a poor country boy in the city Looking for the queen of hearts. I smoke non-filter chukes I ride a motorbike I read Popular Science So I know what I like I like a woman A Barbie doll of my own I'll grab her whenever I want her But when I don't she better leave me alone. Woman, don't tell me about your feelings Because I don't believe in that stuff When you're a humanoid from Houston You know you gotta be tough Only faggots have feelings A real man plays it cool So don't ask me to care about you, honey You know that's against the rules.
How many nights like this The shade drawn, the sheet rumpled and you des perate, thrashing, half-wild with silence, shadows the dark birds tra pped in the hollows of your face. Numb and shivering with tenderness, I twist my high hee I into ice between us. Cracks spread crazy through the silence. You surrender, look up, in a dry, raw voice: Don't you like the way I take up space? Your long body forgets the use of itself sprawled shaking on too-small chairs, captive muscles curdling like cottage cheese under blistered skin. Tears trace prisms of pricking light beyond the curve of the bone of your mouth.
In gasps of silence I lie naked unserene upon your bed The storm cloud shadow of your shoulders moves across my throat 'and face wondering do I really love you or is it just the way you take up space.
I used to think you could get a boy to kis~ you by telepathy if you could think it hard enough that a bolt of blue desire would jump jagged from your brain to his. Then I heard you have to get him alone, take him outside, look into his eye, then the other eye, then both eyes at once. Now I'm told that to get something I have to give up wanting it. This I will never understand. What's the use of a kiss you don't want any more? How can a person make herself go to work, drive the car, wash her hair, change her clothes, get up, sit down, get up again and so on, without a kiss to break up the monotony? Sometimes it's impossible to go on without a kiss, as if your life were a run-on sentence, as if your life were the Berlin Wall wi th soldiers guarding your openings, as if there were not enough mouths to go around in the village, and your lips were swollen with hunger scrabbling with your sisters for one dried-up kiss the size of a silver dollar.
you came in a dream saying simply I wish you had been there to see how I cried I wish I had been there myself to see To see you crying and to cry myself To feel the pain of the breaking between us To see what was broken into how many pieces How did the cracks give way to the break Did any breaks come where were no cracks before Was the sound of the breaking the same as the crying or separate ending before or continuing during if I had been there, you could not have allowed me to reduce this anguish to language Had I been there just once I could have easily conjured the sofa and carpet the style of woodwork the real things around you no more real than the crying 1 never was there 38
But furniture at least makes a sound when it breaks Still I wish I had been there I wish I had been to see how to see you to feel how to be there to see how you how did you cry
I come prepared to be held by you I carry with me the poem your lover wrote about you: her language her image her names for you her metaphors of flight and gentle landing. And so I am not here to love you nor to begin to love you路 no I am here to test the accuracy of another woman's metaphor. 39
Here to observe how your eyes, sharp and glinting as birds' scan this landscape the shallow hills and valleys of my body Here to measure the perimeter of that pleasure and to compare my findings with hers. to time the slow tantra of your caress, How your hands patient and impatient as water wash this reserve to surrender Here to rest my cheek against your chest but only to determine the slope of that curve, only to displace the volume of that comfort. I came prepared to be held, not to be touched. Now I have stumbled into someone else's poem.
C MY NAME IS CAROLYN
C my name is Carolyn,. and my husband's name is Carl. We live in California where we sell cookies. We make the cookies ourselves from 100 percent natural ingredients: granola, nuts, honey, dates, and whole wheat. We supplement our meager income working at night40
Carl rents bowling shoes at Redwood Lanes, I wear hot pants, serve scotch and bloody M my name is Mary and my husband's name is Mike. We sell Midol, but couldn't find a nice place to live that began with an M, so moved to Denver. My parents were shocked at first, but we have all learned to live with it. L my name is Lara and my husband's name is Lars. We live in Louisiana where Lars goes to law school. We got married so little Larry would have a last name. I can't take the pill; it makes me swell like a balloon. Oh, yes, I sell licorice flavored lingerie at Lerner's. J my name is Judy and I live with Joanne. We'd rather not discuss it, if you don't mind. D my name's Delilah and my man's name is Don. We live downtown and we deal dope. All our good friends are dead. S my name is Shakti and my husband's name is Shiva. We live in the ashram where we sell lotuses and prayer rugs. Soon we will be carrying mandalas and yoga pants. Our lives are dedicated to the One, and we dig tantric sex. P my name is Persephone, my husband's name is Pan. We live in constant dread.
THE CLINKING SOUND OF THE KNIFE Mother sits with her feet up on a bare formica table. She is reading a novel of passion, and blue-eyed seafaring men. Between swallows of gin and tonic lighting low-tar cigarettes, smoke clinging in wisps to her just-lacquered hair. A plate of hors d'oeuvres on the table, untouched: She is waiting for my father to come home. The strong-boned wife of the seafaring man spends wistful hours on the New England shore. Icy gusts of wind whip her black skirts about her legs, weather skin smooth as driftwood, eyes like sea-polished glass. Her husband lost at sea, she has taken for a lover a bow-legged beachcomber; still, she performs the ritual of waiting. One night, heavy steps on the splintered wooden staircase: It is her sailor husband, smelling of sweat and smoke. He tears them apart, murders the lover, lifts her in his arms with rough salt kisses down down to the dark sea. Mother sighs when she hears the car in the driveway. Father comes in; she closes her book. He smells of air-conditioning, pecks her on the cheek, spreads cheese on crackers. There is the clinking sound of the knife against the plate. 43
THREE TRUE STORIES
Another Use for Toothpaste Kathy's friend in New York City cut corners for months so she could save enough to see an optometrist. Her contact lenses itched and burned and stung all the time; her eyes were bloodshot and watery from rubbing. People on the bus or in the market would often mis take the irritation for real tears. Wherever she went she heard them clucking in pity. This was quite disturbing to Kathy's friend, who does not relish public scenes. Finally she had put aside the sixty dollars and made an appointment to have her prescription checked. The optometrist interrupted her description of the problem, saying, "Toothbrush and toothpaste, that's all you need. Nothing wrong with those lenses a good brushing won't cure." That was it. She had to pay the sixty dollars anyway.
What the Hitchhiker Said I was packing my things for a trip to New Jersey when Gilles, a hitchhiker from France, showed up. Gilles and I had been thrown together quite literally by a big wave off the coast of southern Mexico. In the ensuing confusion, I had apparently given him my address, although I had no recollection of doing so. I explained upon Gilles' arrival that I was in an awful rush to leave and could not offer much in the way of entertainment. Gilles indicated graciously that this was o.k. by him, and settled down to watch me pack my valise. After a silence he said, '''Tu es trop nerveuse, Marion." Tears came to my eyes. It was so unexpected. From a stranger, from a strange man, that intimacy.
The Magic Cave Eight years later she returned to the dunes to look for the magic cave. The dunes were shaped like her body, the color of thought. She could barely make out his dark figure across the sand-- his back to her, his head bent down, walking in the other direction. She followed him eight days and nights until he disappeared. The next night she reached the cave. The entrance was piled with rocks and no one answered her call. She lay down in the sand and slept but even in her dreams she could not find him. At sunrise he was standing over her. All the rocks had been moved. He said, "The innocence you seek is not inside this cave. The lover you are yearning for is not inside my body. Your past is yours alone, locked inside yourself. If you must enter the cave, I will come part-way--but remember, no comfort lies within," Later he explained that he now preferred men, but she knew he was only being polite.
she had fine white skin long lashes and spiky shadows on her rouged cheeks. he was strong and sturdy and had clear blue eyes. they married and lived in new york city. she had two babies and drank too much. he survived the market crash without speaking. she named her babies joan and jane and hired a nurse. he wanted a boy. she drank more. he spoke less. one summer the city was very hot. she shivered and ran away with a man named bill. he banged his fist on the table. joan was fifteen and cried. jane watched the silverware bounce and said nothing. it was long-since-autumn when they went to court. he kept the girls because she drank too much. he was strict and unsmiling at dinner. joan got a stomachache and left the table. jane did the dishes very quietly. she and bill took them to shows and the seashore. joan left new york to stay with them. jane got good grades and was quiet at dinner. he felt empty, and had no son. joan had white skin and married well at seventeen. bill gave her away. she cried at the wedding and got very drunk. he never opened the invitation. 47
another hot summer bill had a stroke and died. she cried at the funeral and got very drunk. he stayed by her side, needing no invitation. they remarried in the fall. she promised to stop drinking, instead got pregnant. he was getting old and prayed for a son. they named the baby joyce. she drank. they divorced. he got sick and silently died. she lost her figure and not long after she died too. joan has her portrait on a night table. jane's daughter bears her name. joyce has clear blue eyes and cannot remember.
HOW I GOT HERE
1 How I got here? What you mean how I got here? You mean like, transportation? Well I was drove here in a car driven by my mama who in turn was driven by my stepdaddy.
2 I just flew in here one day. That's right. See, me and some friends were in the woods smoking dope and I felt good and I felt free as a bird and I was soaring through the air and I swooped down between the trees and I glided on the wind but they caught me they caught me in a net they locked me in a cage when I saw what was happening I screamed and I cried and I beat my wings against the bars of the cage but it was too late. Anyway, that's how I got here. I flew.
3 Listen, lady. I came here on my boyfriend's motorcycle. Well, I thought it was gonna be a beauty school. My probation officer told me it was gonna be a beauty school. She said I'd get along better here. She said I'd learn about modelling and makeup and hair. She even said something about happy. How I was gonna be happy. How we were all gonna be happy. How we were all gonna be SO HAPPY and get along SO MUCH BETTER. Well, she lied. I only been here two days but I know she lied. She's just doing her job, I guess.
4 The day afterwards we went into school anyway even though I had red marks on my arms and she had a black eye. But we didn't tell anybody. I was six and a half, my sister was seven. We didn't even know the word rape. Still, when they called me down to the office I knew they'd found out somehow what my daddy had done. There were two police officers and a lady
named Miss Norma Bland. When I saw how they had my sister I kind of went crazy, I started beating them up and then I ran right out of the school. But they caught me and drove me away to a fos ter home, and then another, and another and finally out to Girlstown because I 'had no respect for adults'. Anyway, I never seen my parents or my brothers and sisters since. Doesn't it seem wrong that they can just take you away from your family like that, whether you want to go or not?
(This 'poem was a collaborative effort between me and the four young women whose stories it tells.)
Denise keeps razorblades in her pockets. When the cops pick her up she whips out her bloody wrists and challenges everyone not to be interested in her death wish. Sebastian marks 'blush' as the opposite of 'poverty', 'enormous' as the opposite of 'luxury' and 'blink' as the opposite of 'mourn'. How can we determine his grade level? Although he's quite familiar with the word 'jurisprudence', 'shears' is still a mystery belonging to suburban whites with hedges. Olivia would like to study Las Vegas, defines Jewish as "from out of town", and says "With me it's not rape it's just sex." Beth explains that getting it on in the woods with Frank is as good a recreation and a physical education as basketball, or volleyball, or any other kind of ball. Mike had all the answers but left town last month alone. We are keeping him on the attendance sheet just in case. Ben doesn't want to do video any more. It's turning into real life.
ii. We have a very innovative program at our Creative Rapid Learning Center. In the morning we take the students to a pool hall, where they improve their hand-eye coordination In the afternoon we take them to the bowlihg alley where they learn to add their scores. Then they complain because we never serve meat for lunch, they want to go home right now, how come the teacher don't shave her legs? They curse and talk about sniffing paint in Spanish and sometimes the older ones go and buy beer for the younger ones, who get crazy and smash their clay masks in rehearsal. (It was the teacher's fault, reallyfalling asleep in the car at the Minimax) When they are bad we rewrite their contracts and everyone signs.
The psychiatric studies explain it all quite simply: Velva's problem is a symbiotic relationship with her mother. Diane, on the other hand, has an absentee mother, so Deborah is her surrogate mother. Connie Jean has not achieved identification with her mother. Watch out, she might grow up to be an abusive mother. Velva and her mother watch Lv. all day long combing each other's hair and sucking each other's thumbs. Velva's surrogate father is in jail for armed robbery. Velva changes her name to match his, Bill Rhymes. Velva Rhymes. Velva's mother rhymes, too.
Yeast, and we take turns rISIng
(sounds like: tires through highway slush sounds like: Tibetan morning bells sounds like: four a.m.l t.v. snow One hundred eight prostrations this morning our bodies stretched and crumpled I give you these two koans: What happens to the radium when the lights go out Tell the buddha nature of the evil whiskered gambler
MAKING MEANING: FILLING SPACE and quarry my mind for electrons, for magic curving sticks. Let me be not object, but source. Six weeks in a cold water flat I washed your skin with turnip greens before the window contour breathing dusk: you are the open door
and you are the taxi driver, I leap into your back seat and shout Follow that car it is us in the Plymouth, doing 80 on 80 us in the subway, on ice skates, in boxcars us in Detroit, Kansas, and Austin and us pale shadows in Providence begging imagination come home COME HOME THE ELECTRIC BILL IS THREE MONTHS OVERDUE THEY'VE TAKEN OUT THE TOILET PLEASE wontcha please cha please The Volvos huddle with the Saabs in underground parking, they chatter excitedly in Swedish and I swear to you that nothing is wasted. I place my utter faith in the conservation of energy and of course it matters of course the light matters of course I will take you for chocolate fondue
and to bazaars where they sell our teeth strung with puka, wallets and keycases from your soft backside, the bone cups of pelvis woven with our hair trimmed with our toenails tibia and fibula whittled into tongue depressors, the scales read only my height and your weight and you want to know what I'm trying to say I'm making road maps, and will hitchike your jugular I'm finding chande liers made of lapis, and will hang them from the roof of your mouth I'm growing papaya and breadfruit on the tundra I'm soul-walking Brooklyn and Ethiopia I'm looking for combinations of vowels that mean something, and are consonant.
CREATIVE STRESS: a self help manual
INTRODUCTION Just when is stress creative? Just how creative is creative stress? CHAPTER ONE: Stress in Air and Food Certainly it has something to do with paranoia, because believing that everything you eat and breathe causes cancer can have a positive effect. Not on your health, of course, but on your art. If you can fear radiation and carcinogens as much as your ancestors feared Fascism and hunger then maybe you can be a Picasso or a Kafka, or a Pasternak. If you're a woman then maybe you can be an Eleanor Roosevelt or a Rapunzel. (emma goldman, emma goldman let down your hair.)
CHAPTER TWO: Stress in Relationships Speaking of cancer, three Cancers are causing stress in my personal life. One is a woman. She wants me to make my own decisions. One is a fif!een-year-old boy. I would like to make decisions for him. One is my father. He would like us to come home to New Jersey for a visit.
Then there is a P:isces, who left with good reason. But separation is a very common cause of stress. One ought to be able to deal with it.
CHAPTER THREE: DeaLing with Stress What is 'dealing with it', anyway? What makes dealing with it any different from sitting around and moping about it? Although one is said to get you somewhere and the other doomed to leave you nowhere They certainly look alike to the uninformed observer. CHAPTER FOUR: Power and Stress Either you have power or you don't but either way you get stress. Is it any more stressful to control than to be controlled? Power means responsibility. Responsibility means stress, and yet ignorance is not bliss. The more you know, the more you feel. Emotion is a positive side effect of stress. So is art. So are earthquakes. CHAPTER FIVE: Stress in History It is stress that fuels the dialectic of history. It was stress that formed the crust of the earth.
THERE ARE NO GENTLE MACHINES for Martin Sheen
How can we live like this, stripped of our innocence. Without innocence, we can feel almost nothing. Fear dries the mouth, anger hurts the head, . We swallow disgust, complain of nausea. We know we are grieving because we want to go to sleep now, and love: insomnia, or a bladder infection. Every emotion, a symptom of dlisease. Even the toilet flush sounds like a bomb. There are no gentle machines. I want to protect you, but I cannot see you. We can no longer use words like hope or despair. These words have been flattened by tanks and glued on a billboard. We are watching the systematic rape of our language. Our words have been violated, stripped of their innocence. Without innocence, words fall apart. Grammar is not strong enough to hold them together. This poem is crumbling before your eyes. I just said your name. You didn't hear me because something was exploding in your face. There are no gentle machines. We can never again say please and mean it. Without innocence, taking is theft; to give is just to give up. Every exchange is violent.
I don't know where we'll find the strength to hoard food, and seek refuge. Soon we will watch children die without flinching. A child's death looks small next to the machine that makes dead bodies. We learned that at the movies. We go blind watching explosions. Perhaps this blindness is the machine's way of showing mercy. Why do I keep thinking of the machine as having feelings. I have not watched enough telev ision. I'm still trying to make sense of things.
We wanted to pray but we can't believe in anything. We'll just go to sleep instead. Stripped of our innocence, we no longer fear death. After all, it's just a burst of light from a machine. Our bodies will look very small when the smoke clears, just like in the movies. We go blind watching explosions.
1. the airport A single red cosmetic kit twirls slowly around the conveyor. The lady from Argentina never made it to Baggage Claim. So easy to lose your self in an airport if no one drops you off if no one picks you up if you are somehow separated from your luggage. If a person is not defined by the love of those who love her she should hang on to her cosmetic kit, and the name of her destination. A family from Honduras sleeps on the concourse. The father and his eldest son stand watch. Everything they own is in those boxes. The cosmetic kit takes off on a transatlantic flight. It spins unclaimed in Lisbon for several weeks. 2. the wreck
(A rearview mirror lies on the track, Volkswagen smashed against a pole, 63
behind the wheel a woman is embarrassed, the train might be there any minute.) Crowd Members: Thank God no one was hurt! Jonathan: (annoyed) Why did you get so involved? Woman: I couldn't see what was behind me. I didn't know it was in reverse. (The rearv iew mirror: a circle of light, a hole punched out of the moon.)
3. the fashion show "We just don't live in the same world anymore, Mar, " says the narrator as my mother circles past me on the runway. The 1980 fashion statement is 'lower expectations' but no design will sacrifice comfort or convenience. The fabrics are sleek and water-tight in varying shades of submarine hand-stitched for neatness and safety. 4. the solar system Difficult to love what does not live in your house, what does not wake by your clock,
what does not talk on your phone. Difficult to know what .is expected: like meteors we fell from her body we're still falling she revolves fixed .in moonless orbit 5. the circus
.I have no electric ity, he says No phone, no clock, no gas no water. What a perfect pair we make. I have no resistance, no voice no time, and nothing to cook or keep clean. But forget it. We pound at each other as if skin were stone and both of us prisoners of war. 6. the first dream He sajd: Okay, where's the five dollars. I stared at my empty hand. This dream is caught in my fingers, they keep
reaching as if sleeping as jf waking were possible and the dream just a crooked symphony. 7. the second dream Here I am at a swimming class for multiple amputees. My coach is a former private eye, hit by a train while on a case. A mannequin scans the bottom of the pool. Later she will surface in pieces. 8. dream before waking You're dead, my father is dying, it takes over an hour to drive home to Staten Island. My sister is broken, the dogs are in mourning, I lost the directions to my grandfather's funeral, everyone's dying, I want you to hold me.
I am Antigone, I want you to hold me
9. the future Morning. Orange juice, sections of newspaper, bathrobes, thick glasses, all-weather radio. The coffee cups bob in the.ir saucers llike wooden-headed dolls.
WHEN THERE ARE TWO
When there are two at war in you, look for the secret third: the hybrid the separate seed of the" others' growing together. Nurture the third seed separately apart from the power of one, away from the fear of the two; the third seed w'ill flower in its own time. There will never be a morning when you awaken knowling you are grown. Your delight will be in growing alone. You are becoming the third. So recall unto yourself all the voodoo of desire the reckless hints and body parts strewn like Gretel's breadcrumbs through other people's lives. Find them. Acknowledge them. See if you can love them. Love your old mistakes like broken, helpless animals, and they will heal, and they will lead you home.
They talk about the body of a poet's work. Well Marion Winik's work's body is out on the dancefloor, jazzy, electric, boogeying till they close the place down. Her poems whizz from the North Pole to Zagreb to Denmark to the flats of West Texas. They're populated in part by an Aztec princess, Squeaky Fromme, Shakti and Shiva, and Denise, who "keeps razorblades in her pockets." They shiver, shimmy and shake, these poems, this body: "The Texas Heat Wave broke over my body /as if I was a beach, and could take it"-and "My body / is at least as smooth and as arched /as the hood of your car." But these are the most apparent delights. Look, too, at the delicacy of perception and phrasing in the last two lines of "What the Hitchhiker Said": those small graceful moves in any body-wrist-turn and eye-dilation-that finally,in accumulation, make the whole thing work. Albert Goldbarth
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