Zuzu, Lot and I spend our Tuesdays at Pope John Paul Park, walking Pup Ratzinger. While Zinger is great with humans, he has a specific code about what types of dogs he'll get a long with. He hates puppies, Mastiffs, any variation of Wolf or Huskie, and German Shepherds.
Today, the only dogs he really got along with were a trio of pugs. The three pugs were a mother, father, son grouping who all looked alike. Little flat nosed, chub pugs. About a half hour after we saw the pugs, Zinger made friends with a mutt hound. The mutt's owner was a woman on rollerblades. Zuzu explained "It's really weird how Zinger likes your dog. He's been a brat all day. Barking at everyone. Such a brat. The only ones he got along with were these three little black pigs."
"I think they're triplets." The woman on the rollerblades said.
"No, they're a mother, son and father."
"Oh, the pug dogs." The woman said.
"I thought you meant..." and then she looked off in the distance where three young black children were playing in the grass. "Gotta go."
Apparently, Hell beckoned.
It's summery, and the geese are honking in the park. I am in a park. It's summery and I'm outdoors in the morning, and I swear this time, mom, I'm not even close to homeless.
The geese are honking, not at me, but at each other. Mating and flying and hissing and swimming and eating the plant life in this unswimmable water. These black capped, white chin-strapped loud beaks breaking the silence of a Tuesday morning bagel.
They will not get the bagel.
I remember being three or four, sitting on the pondfront in front of my cousins' house in Atasmansit, with various members of my mother's side of the family. There was a family of geese that owned their quarter of Lawrence Pond. We called the alpha female, Big Hiss, because she was big. And hissy. I remember feeding her bits of bagel, and turning to my Aunt Maggie, a laughful Canadian woman with fluffy black hair and a ten mile smile. "Canadian geese are funny." I said.
She crossed her arms. "They aren't Canadian geese, Adam, they're Canada Geese."
Now I understand why they honk and hiss so much. These beautiful vegetarians named for a country that refuses to claim them. The nation that births them, but does not allow them to call their birthplace home.
I get it.
When the article in the paper announced my upcoming show, I was disheartened to see that they'd labeled me a Gay Poet. Sure, I've been sleeping predominantly with men for the last decade or so, but more often I've been sleeping alone, and nobody labels me an Asexual Poet.
I'm not sure why the Gay distinction makes me any angrier than the poetry distinction. After all, I've been writing more prose than poetry these days. I suppose I'm more forgiving of the poet because I'm doing the show to perform poetry. I'm not going there to recruit gays, pick up guys, or pass along any agenda associated with who I sleep with. Will I be reading some poems about men I've slept with? Probably. But I'll also be reading some surrealist shit, and some a bunch of persona poems. I'd probably be just as angry if I'd been listed as a Surrealist Poet or a Persona Poet, because, while they're things I do write about, I rarely fill a set with them.
Still, the whole being a Gay Poet thing annoys me. Not just because I don't often identify with the Stereotype Gay Poets. Those who only write about being Gay. Those who go out of their way to be self-parody or walking political campaigns. When I think of my favorite poets who are gay, I don't think of them as gay poets. Who gives an unfuck who Daphne Gottleib sleeps with? Justin Chin? What part of Morris Stegosaurus's "Clockwork" is enhanced by the fact that he's a gay babyfur? And what does giving the occasional blowjob have to do with Buddy Wakefield's "Pretend"?
I'm getting ranty. And Rant Poet isn't a title anyone should be reaching for, so I'll just fold this little article up into my poetry scrapbook, pick up the copy of Blues For All The Changes, that I hope will get me to remember what it was about Nikki Giovanni that made me love her work, and start reading again. I'll try and relax while the joggers and dog walkers dance around me to the beat of the geese, who skim the water in front of me, honking "Fuck Canada" over and over again in their beautifully raspy voices.
I have spent an absurd amount of time and money into comic books this year. Between various Marvel X-titles and Vertigo series like Fables and Lucifer, I have two shelves full of graphic novels.
Yesterday, in the Allston store, where I'm prone to hanging out with the employees being bitter and judgmental, I had a bit of an OCD attack. Their trade shelves were...frighteningly out of shape, and messy. So, I did what any normal lunatic would do, I spent four hours fixing them. Realphabetized, restacked, removed doubles. It was totally an A Beautiful Mind moment...err...series of moments.
So I now have a job at New England Comics. I'll be delivering comics from the warehouse to the Boston area stores (Allston, Brighton, Cambridge, and Quincy), as well as floating between stores when they need me. It's a minimum three day a week job, and it will no way interfere with my getting drunk while waiting tables/bartending job at The Cantab. This makes me happy. And less broke.
We Are Virginia Tech
It hurts me that Nikki has become poetry's answer to Elton John, who ran right out after Princess Di died and put out a rewritten tripe version of "Candle in the Wind." "We Are Virginia Tech" hurts me. Not because it's a sad account of a tragedy, but because it's terrible. It reeks of all the slam poets who run right out after every hurricane, tsunami, school shooting, earthquake, etc., and write vapid, impersonal diatribes filled with cliches but not a single metaphor or answer.
Transcript of the poem (hold your nose):
we are Virginia Tech...we are sad today...and we will be sad for quite a while...we are not moving on...we are embracing our mourning
we are Virginia Tech...we are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly...we are brave enough to bend to cry...and sad enough to know we must laugh again
we are Virginia Tech...we do not understand this tragedy...we know we did nothing to deserve it...but neither does the child in Africa dying of AIDS...neither do the invisible children walking the night awake to avoid being captured by a rogue army...neither does the baby elephant watching his community be devastated for ivory...neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water...neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands...being run over by a boulder because the land was destablized...no one deserves a tragedy
we are Virginia Tech...the Hokie nation reached out and embraces with open hearts and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds...we are strong...and brave...and innocent...and unafraid...we are better than we think...and not quite what we want to be...we are alive to the imagination and possibility..we will continue to invent the future...through our blood and tears...through all this sadness
we are the Hokies...we will prevail...we will prevail...we will prevail...we are Virginia Tech
There is not one moving thing in this entire wet fart of a poem. Not a word of the professor who put his body between the gunman and the students, not a line for the woman whose quick thinking and barricades saved the lives of all the students in room 105, not a metaphor, not a thought for WHY neither VT students nor the elephant or the Mexican child don't deserve to die; just a list of other things that are sad, like Virginia Tech is sad. I know it's sad because Nikki told me it was sad. She is sad today.
I acknowledge that the community at VT need something to rally behind. That they have undergone a monumental tragedy. That it must sting to hear that cow, Diane Sawyer who said (and I'm paraphrasing because I don't have a transcript, and can't find one online) that the students went to college to learn, and on Monday they learned an important lesson of sadness. I know they needed something to give hope.
If this poem were written by a student, a novice, anyone who was not heralded as a "prolific poet" with multiple legitimate books published, I'd understand. A tearful cheerleader. One of the students who watched his friends murdered. A dean of student life. The president of the college. These were sentiments that the community needed. They are not a poem.
Tonight, Patricia Smith (pswordwoman) will be reading at The Cantab. She is also a much published author. She is also a strong voice who writes about tragedy and hope. Unlike Giovanni, though, she takes time to actually work her way into the personal side of tragedy. I've never heard her say she is sad, or that pain hurts, but I've felt it between her words. Her new book about Hurricane Katrina would make Bush & Michael Brown cry...both Michael Browns (Patricia's ex-husnabd and the FEMA fucker both have the same name).
I'm sure she'll have some thoughts on the VT tragedy. They'll be insightful, and moving. I wish Nikki Giovanni could be there to hear what a real poet sounds like.
Because I happened to take a different route to the bus, I actually managed to catch the 66 right away, even though it's raining. The bus was packed full of people, but after a couple of stops, a seat near the front opened up. I sat in it.
At the next stop, a man with that overpowering urine smell that is so popular with the nuevo-crazy-homeless population, stood close enough to me that if I sneezed, I would have headbutted him in the groin. He kept repeating "He committed suicide. He committed suicide." like a mantra. Sometimes laughing. Sometimes sobbing.
He was not wearing earphones.
So Rebound, the cat who isn't mine, but who I feed and sometimes provide with sleeping space, was left on her own for most of this week. Between shows, and errands, and trying to help keep my somewhat inane friends ane, I've barely been home. But I did stop by briefly before the Friday night hootenanny. Sure enough, Rebound was in the post position, fully prepared to pivot around my feet, meowing up a storm.
Initially, I felt kind of bad. What if I am the only one feeding her now? But then I took a look at her and realized she's getting kind of fat, so clearly someone else shares possession of this cat, which is fine with me. Then I took a closer closer look. Rebound is not just fat. I believe she is getting full of kittens, a definite floor violation.
I really really really really really hope that she has some other owner that's going to take care of this problem, otherwise, after the kitsplosion, I'm going to assume I'm her primary caretaker, which means, I'm having her spayed. I'm doing my part not to up the grocery bills by shooting out kids (aka point shaving). The cat can do the same.
But if she is, by some chance, preggers, uhhh...annyone want a kitten? Kittens are beyond the salary cap.
On my way out of the store, some Ya Dude with a hoodie AND a backwards hat on, turns to his Ya Dude Sidekick and says "So, what, dude? She's a fucken slut just like her sista. Thinks she can fuck with me? I'm too smaht for her. If I wasn't as smaht, I'd be bleeding right now." At which point he tripped over the curb, falling face first onto Harvard Ave. When he stood up, his nose was bleeding.
I promised myself not to write about current relationships until there was some sort of wedding announcement. Don't hold your breath, blue people were never a turn on for me (unless you count Brainy Smurf, but I don't).
I'm also taking a break from writing bitter love poems, political rants, and anything involving words.
Which is why I've been spending so much time trying to reconnect with my visual artist friends. Really, ever since Celeste moved to LA, my life has been sorely lacking in the hypnotic eyefucking of inanimate objects (unless you count the catotonic guy at The Cantab Semifinals, but I don't). Sora's photography makes me eyesmile, but I am admittedly biased, and have a thing for his most frequent model. But what else to fill the void? Stalk Randy Milholland? No, thanks. Accidentally buy thousands of dollars worth of graphic novels by buying one every time you go to the comic book store, and going to the comic book store several times a week? Uhhhh, yea, that seemed like a good idea at the time. Not so much, anymore, though.
I've been going to WANE. A Boston meetup for comic artists and writers. The first few times I went were the kind of special that drools a lot. Each time, there was this big guy, obsessed with Erik Larsen, who he once was elbowed by at a comic con, making them friends forever. He always talks about these fancomics he's working on, and mentioning that the website he plans to post them on gets 600,000 hits, and the other website he plans on posting them on gets 400,000 hits, so he has a million readers. I have thus far managed to stifle the urge to remind him that since he hasn't actually written his comic yet, he technically doesn't have any readers. This is how I plan on getting into Heaven.
At the meetup in February, Big Guy mentioned the Chimpeach sticker in the comic book store window, and began ranting "You need to take that out. That sort of thing is devisive. And comic books should be about bringing people together, not driving them apart. If my grandmother was to walk by this store, she'd see that sticker, and walk right by, without stopping in."
"Uh," I said, losing my place in the Heaven line, "Does your grandmother ever go into comic book stores?"
"No, but she might some day. And, anyway, comics ahould be about nice things, and harmony. Not something that's going to make people angry. It's about escapism."
"Sooooo...Art Speigelman's Maus shouldn't exist, then? I mean, theoretically, it might offend Nazis." And, I know, everyone always pull the Nazi card when they're talking about free expression, but what else was I going to say, "Sooooo...the X-Men shouldn't exist because it might offend mutants with magnetic powers who like to wear purple helmets?" And, even then, what made Magneto evil? Being tortured by Nazis. Every argument I had was going to devolve into Nazis anyway, why not cut to the chase?
He then babbled about peace, harmony, and masturbating to the Snorks. Actually, he may not have mentioned the Snork thing, I ended up deciding to tune him out.
At any rate, I skipped March's meeting, and was not overly optimistic about April's. So I brought Zuzu along, figuring, if nothing else, her interaction with Big Guy would be hilarious.
Well, fuck you pessimism, April's meetup was great. Another comic group showed up, and, combined, we had enough people to populate a Marvel Superhero team, and The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Big Guy didn't get a lot of babble time. And I got to schmooze with the cool woman who puts out the Malarkey anthology that Celeste is in, AND paulmay, whose covers for The Weekly Dig are all kinds of awesome. His portfolio also turned my tongue all fanboy, and I now have some new webcomic sites to explore. Anyhow, if your looking for a bunch of cool, frequently updated comics, you should check out act_i_vate, which features an array of web-comix. You should also check out paulmay's website, Delicious Brains Dot Com.
Time for me to get back to work on that Torpor Heights comic I wanted to do with Celeste.
After typing the last entry, I stepped outside and watched the The last likely bus of the night (the schedule claims there is another one, but it never ever comes) pass by me. I think the driver flipped me off. So I hopped in a cab, where the driver was having some sort of icky phone sex with someone who might have been his mother. I'm unclear about that, though.
The first thing that caught my attention when I got home was the smell of piss. I rolled my eyes, and growled, "Rebound." I went into my room and...and the piss smell wasn't coming from my room. I went to the most likely place for a piss smell to come from, the bathroom. Nope. It was my roommate's room. And, since the cat had been locked in my room for the hours I was gone, I knew she was not to blame. I Febreezed her door, and decided to take a shower. After my hot, steamy (in the G-Rated way) shower, I wrote "Pay Your Bills!" on the mirror and window, as Divine has not paid me for electric or gas since November, and her room smells like piss and stale pot, and I was having a bad night.
It was two o'clockish, and I had to be on a bus at six o'clock in the morning, so sleeping was right out.
Nothing I did during those four hours is worth discussing. Eventually, I put Rebound out, and began to crawl to the T. Rebound decided to follow me. At first, she would run in front of me and try and block my path. Then, she would lag behind. By the end of my street, I had said "Go home!" elevenish times. So she pretended to walk back, but every time I'd turn around to make sure she'd gone home, I'd see her run behind a garbage can. It was the lamest spy movie ever, Stalker Cat. Halfway down the hill (a ways away form home), I picked her up, walked back to the house, and dropped her in the foyer.
The rest of the morning was ughworthy but not writing ughworthy, until I reached my high school. It looked different, but I couldn't place why. turns out, it's been annexed, but they dropped the new part of the school directly in front of the old part of the school, so it looks exactly the same, but the parking lot is shorter. I was definitively weirded out.
The plan was, we'd do two shows, each an hour and a half long. two of us, doing poetry back and forth. The first show was uneventful, but fun. During the second one, I spotted my Freshman Year English Teacher She gave me an appraising look, then disappeared. When she came back in the room, she was carrying a pie with a candle in it, and some cake and singing "Happy Birthday". During our lunch break, she told everyone that I had been her favorite student in the mid-eighties. I informed her that I had been in her class in the mid-nineties. I refrained from saying that I was fairly certain she'd hated me. The pie was good, and I preferred eating it to wearing it.
After our second show, we were getting ready to leave, when this short kid with plugs in his ears comes up and says "I missed most of the poetry stuff, but I told my botany professor about it, and we were wondering if you would mind doing another show."
So we did another show for a botany class, a geometry class, and a biology class. The Not only did they pay me on site (usually you have to wade through paperwork doom), but they reimbursed me for the bus ticket and the cab ride, even though it was my friend who flaked on the ride, and totally not their fault.
Back home in the city, I was accosted in the comic book store by happy birthday wishers. On the cash register was the list of trade paperbacks that I've been unable to find in Boston, with several crossed out. One was presented to me as...well...a present.
So far today is happiness, though I haven't slept more than an hour since Sunday, so I'm certain to lapse into a coma during the midst of one of my poems tonight, and it won't be from the liquor.
I've been e-mailing back and forth with my cohost for tomorrow's poetry event at my old high school. Today, she sent me a frantic e-mail saying she'd lost my number, and I should call her. I was on my way to host an event at BU, I took my cell phone along with me, and when I took it out to call her, it died. The batteries didn't run out. I wasn't out of minutes. It's dead. Time to pull out the SIM card & buy a new phone. Which is fucktacular. My ride for tomorrow's trip e-mailed me to let me know she can't do it, which means bussing it back to the Cape & then cabbing it. On the plus side, I know exactly how much it will cost & how to get there. On the minus side, I have to take a bus, then a cab to a high school show...& then bus back in time for tonight's semifinals at The Cantab. On the plus side, I'll be thirty, so all these things will fall into place & I'll be a grown up. Right?