Eve Brandstein’s theme for this evening of Poetry ‘N Motion was “Fuck Me in the Heart.”
She has her reasons, I’m sure.
For me, it was an opportunity to speak to Life as our greatest lover, who does sometimes seem to do just that.
please pick a rope you can hang by:
be it slender or silky or rough
please tie the rope in a lovely knot
say all of the reasons you’ve never forgot
tie it up tight and let it out loose
and fashion it brightly –
your very own noose
please pick a hook that is gleaming and sharp
one that will put out your internal spark
pick a slightly high note
for the scream that will come
from your throat as your heart beats
– a rum a rum tum
pick a tune in the background
– use the war drum
now mutter an idiom puts all to rest
whatever you wonder now ponder the chest
of the treasure you once were kept in but forgot
like the kernel of sand making pearls in your shell
the world is your oyster
your oyster’s in hell
now get in the ring
slug it out with your fighter
but wait for the ding
till you face your igniter
and your referree who will call as he sees ’em
and tease them and bribe them
so they work for free
and when the first whistle is lifted to lip
throw punches in bunches
thrust fast from the hip
hold on tight
clear your throat,
spit your blood in the cup
let it rip and break wind
towards the suits in the pit
prepare for the trip
punch by punch
bit by bit
now duck left and feign right’s
what i say to you
do a dance with your foil
and shuffle the coil,
as all mortals do
While on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket this fall, I was pondering the true meaning of “home,” and what composes the “I,” while hitchhiking under the stars late one night. On the previous night I had not been picked up and ended up walking four hours to get to Siaconset, out on the Milestone Road. On this night a young man, about 21 years old, picked me up. It turned out he was the son of an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in 25 years. This boy poured his small town island heart out to me. We talked and drove to the edge of the cliff in ‘Sconset, where my favorite lighthouse stood in the solitary dark. A local paper had carried an article that week, about a man who had fallen over the edge of his boat and drowned. The last sentence of the article had said, in complete conjecture , “It is presumed that he went up on the deck to relieve himself.” These are the thoughts I carried with me when I wrote “Towards the Lighthouse.”
towards the lighthouse
(for steve s.’s son)
There but for the rip and the cry i walk
untethered and tattered
unmade by storms
Harbours and homesteads may gather and break
but did you think that mess of boards was you?
Did you run those stairs to climb to God?-
That mythical unicorn who drinks virgin blood?
Anchor me in your fairy tale now-
mine cant possibly be true
or let’s go swinging hands like hansel and gretel,
dropping our brains in the woods for the birds
Can it be that mess of memories I herd and hoard belongs to me?
(mocking voice) “Not by the grace of all that will be
will i stand here and let it be taken from me,
all of it-not a whit!” (roll eyes)
What is all this fuss about?
This fuss about me, about you, about us?
What is an “I”?
And who gives a rat’s tail
about the drunk husband fell over the rail,
pissing his last beer out the small hole
off the edge of the boat in the moat of the sea
while his wife and his child slept deep down below?
Over he tumbled and off the boat went,
sailing all night until running aground,
one fine sunny captainless morning…
-while hours before he had fallen, fly open
and wondering up at the glory of stars,
This is what happens when you piss in the wind
and forget the direction you’re facing.
Count on the sea change and the wind shift;
pay attention so you don’t fall face first into it!
Did you think that barrage of nails and glue
would keep it all together for you?
Or did you invest in the wailing storm,
gathering off, coming in from afar?
Did you think the night lighthouse would not do its job
while we raised our wild voices, bathed in sea salted air?
Did you really not notice the ceiling of stars?
Feel the ocean as your true floor?
Know the sand was the only gate
you’d ever walk through naked?
Oh the stories you have told yourself;
careening through the lies,
ups and downs like seals on waves,
slaves on ships in olden days-
is that what all this fuss’s about?
And what is an “I”?
Sunday comes, and Sunday goes:
the putting on and taking off of clothes
the socks get lost at such a cost
so into the night we scream- we do
into the dark we strike our match
to see what light will brighten,
to see what still will live
under our high black tower..
And towards the lighthouse, here we go!
Singing and blasting our radio!
Raising our arteries, blood sweeping through
the bones of our feet and the lips of our teeth-
we slam the truck doors and i tell you to shout,
to get out of the cage-
you gallop the lighthouse, imagining victory!
Our hands raised up high above freedom we fly
like salt moisture into the air …
Above all the frightened daughters,
tired sons of the lie
living bound by picket fences
living in their tidy houses
brushing off their hairy couches
muttering to themselves the same repeated
bile of the robotic little mouses,
while sunbleached surfers sleep soundly on surf boards
with the bottom of the seas as floors
and the tops of the trees singing lullabies
in their little bamboo huts under flashing starry skies.
What will be left to tell the ones to come
when we decide to remember the truth?
Oh, how the lighthouse beamed and beamed
and swept the sky throughout the nights
and spun again and spun again
and never going out…