My son is hardly a child anymore; in fact, he is 26 yrs old.
And although he is an adult himself, and although his moher, me was never single as an adult and spent forty years married to a man who was infertile, and therefore could not possibly be his father, sperm donor paternity and all that jazz, he still should not know about my love life (such as it is) that involved this dress:
and this bridge,
where I stood beside Thomas Robert Higginson in Chicago. Many did not want to see this happen, but it happened anyway, and I will never try to speak for him, but others kept interfering, and they still try to, and I am not speaking for Thomas Robert, only for myself, but there are times when I wish they would let us be, and allow whatever can or won’t happen between us to happen or not happen. It should not matter to anyone what I did or who I did it with. I am no celebrity, just an aging woman who wants Love more than anything.
Was there Love on this bridge in Chicago?
Indeed there was, and is it gone? –well, not for me. But I will not speak for him, and his Sweet Memory. Sweet for me also. So sweet, I had to write about it,: (don’t ask)
There was already too much interference, oh, I don’t know, say from a publisher who rejected his blurb for my book “Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code“, rejected his blurb for not being “literary enough” . Below is a photo of the jacket of this book, and Thomas Robert’s Blurb is not on it. Although it so easily could have been. And that is just wrong.
The Missing blurb:
That’s right, Write On, o! Great Crusader of the Pen Nib. hell, you go Girl, you go, Lady Thylias of the massive Intellect talent and Poet for All Time”
I fought to have it there; I know that one should choose one’s battles, and I chose that one although I lost. Thomas Robert himself told me not to worry about it, that the book was what matters, but I recall writing an essay explaining that the spoken word artist is more significant than the literary artist, for the spoken word Artist has an audience! Made no difference to those who could have implemented changes, but did not, for reasons I reject.
A few photos of Thomas Robert Higginson and I performing together at the Hannan Café in Detroit, MIchigan:
All images from the Hannen Cafe; who knows, but I may never get to perform with him again.
More of the performance here. I had feared that this footage also was lost, but it was on an external hard drive. I have at least 50 of these. I don’t want to say too much, I fear that Thomas Robert is already upset with me, for I am verbsose and he is terse, and much more direct, and the best friend I have ever had. I have just wanted to establish some reality in his life, and here it is, some of it anyway. Looks real enough to me.
This is truth.
I cannot deny it and be telling the truth, for that is me in the videos and I am performing with a good friend of mine, Thomas Robert Higginson. We are in Detroit. At the Hannen Café. We are performing a Collaboration “Hammered Justice” and I know why we performed this poem and not Blue Coming. He said he didn’t want to parade me. This is the most complete version that I have, and you will hear my son’s voice in the background. And he also said that this was the first time he had ever seen me happy with a man, exactly what he said.
I had feared this video was also lost, but I am so glad it isn’t for, who knows I may never get to perform with my friend again. Once we were BFFs, and here is what someone else in the audience said, Writer L. Bush:
“Hi Forker Gryle; I did not film it; I shot pics. Had I known you would go OFF like that, I would have filmed it. I was totally unprepared for the Tina/Ike ( happy days) vibe you two had going on. It was FUCKING AWESOME! -w.”
Please understand it was the way Thomas Robert Higginson met my son, he and I had agonized about how this meeting would be, But Thomas Robert walked right up to Ansted, extended his hand and said, “I’m Thomas Robert.” Thomas easily commands any scene where he appears. “I know”, my son said, “I’ve heard so much about you!” Thomas Robert just laughed his robust laugh. And when he kissed me at the end of the performance, you should have seen the reaction of the audience, mine too; I was only too glad to be close to him. And for my son, it also was delight. His mother was happy. Very happy.
Following this, everyone assumed, rightfully or not, that Thomas Robert and I were an item. We even received a couple of invitations but there was no followthrough on this. I wish there had been. Thomas Robert always acted as if my MS were problematic, but it isn’t. I remain symptom-free; not at all the way it was when I was on injectable treatment therapies. It really is, right now, as if I have no MS; symptom-free since 2013. No exacerbation of any kind, and not a single MS attack,
used to be like this for me:
Music composed and performed by my son, Ansted Moss, vocals written and performed by Thylias Moss, a poem, “Monday Aardvark of Laundry” (this too will find its way to my rebuilt YouTube channel) . Please understand that Thomas Robert Higginson and I have no simple connection. This man will always be in my life whether or not he wants to be. We’re already linked; too late to unlink us now. Nor do I want to be unlinked,
and I am so very glad that my son has been a part of this.
Thomas Robert Higginson accepted me despite all of this; he saw something else, and so did I, so do I, I mean. I cannot turn my back on this man; he and I have weathered so much.
This happened and I will never deny this bit of truth. I am very happy with this truth, happiest days of my life, Truly. He named me “Dream Baby” –Just a fact.
I am not trying to embarrass anyone. Yes; I really do still care about this man, and that is not your business either. I am not asking any of you if I should or shouldn’t. I have taken a lot from this man, and likewise, Thomas Robert has taken a lot from me, and when I rebuild my youtube channel, “Hammered Justice” from the Hannen Café is going back on it, where it was in the first place.
How and why I know him is none of your business, and I am not asking for anyone’s permission to care about him, but I have known him for thirty years; in fact I was
in a movie he produced, as I recall; it was a long time ago, but some memories never die, and become ever sweeter over time, but this is not secret. My mother was supposed to play the maid, but she wouldn’t, although housekeeping (or maid service) is the only job, other than mother, and wife, I have known her to have since I have been in the world, but she refused, saying that my friend just wanted her to play “the lowest“. She could never understand that I was actually elevating maids; valuing her work and its associated dignity. I won’t tell you all of what else she called my friend, that old, N-Jew was part of it, and I deeply resented that. Wouldn’t you know that a man would be part of the wedge driving mother and daughter further apart?
I was also in “Green Light and Gamma Ways” it shoud have been but on the video as “Green Light and Gamma Rays” , a typical expectation, but “Ways” in the source poem, and the previous excerpt “9:08, Nagging Misunderstanding” is from a much longer poem “The Linoleum Rhumba”
For the movie shoot for both of these video pieces, I wore a dress I no longer have, and for many reasons, I wish I did, for not having this dress, makes it seem that I do not value ths experience as much as another experiencesr did.
But here I am wearing the dress from this movie, “The United States of Poetry“. I encourage you to look it up, be sure you understand these parts before you criticize them. I have already received a lot of flack about the bed-making video, from some who felt the white woman was maligned, but that was never my intention, and if you listen carefully and pehaps read the entire poems, you might realize what the intention actually is. Here I am wearing the dress from this movie:
I do not place this here inviting speculation from anyone as to what is or it not between this man and I; kindly keep to yourself what you think my response should be. I have heard enough from people who know nothing about “US’Ness” –telling me that this man des not want me –did he tell you that?
If not, kindly do not speak for him just because you are a man. He is more than capable of speaking for himself, and whatever he said, I can take it. I have been down this road with him before, and I still care about him. I am trying not to allow any but my own feelings –and I do have some– to dominate in trying to work things out, but all those poems in question, appear in “Wannabe“–as well as “Blue Coming” –a copy of that one as it appear in:” by Thylias Moss (me) published by Persea Books, 2016.
My “Blue Coming”
you can hear me read “Blue Coming ” here:
BLUE COMING: POEM READ BY THYLIAS MOSS
Art credit: “Foam” by photographer Çağrı Yılmaz, Istanbul, @resifdesign.
Thylias Moss Poetry is connected to the body, part of my fingertips, just as blue as anything that ever was or will be blue– –blue that dye aspires to, true blue denied to any sapphire, Logan sapphire included, even if she wears some on
Colorado Review — Volume 42, Number 2, Summer 2015
to see the whole thing in contxt, amy I refer you to
ABSTRACT MAG ARTICLE: “FUCKIN’ MUSE – A JOURNEY INTO Collaboration
I have an entire post in this blog dedicated to that essay:Fuckinmuse: a journey into collaboration (therefore, also into a True Love story in Love Jungle)1 by Thylias Moss
What I cannot tell you is where this man, Thomas Robert Higginson and I are heading for sure; time will tell as tim always does, but we have been many places, especially deep within my heart.
All I have done is really very simple: I hav told the truth, and I hope the truth is enough, is a form of Justice that I am hammering into existence, that my son gets to witness, for though I have cried some tears over him, he has been the very source of sunshine in my life, and I will always thank him for that, and so much more.
And JL Jacobs
I will always be grateful to Jaclyn for publishing this eesay of truth bewtween myself an a man who means so much to me, always will .
I post that essay again in its entirety from Jaclyn’s website:
Art credit: Nathalie von Arx, Zurich, Switzerland
fuckinmuse: a journey into collaboration
(therefore, also into a True Love story in Love Jungle)
Emily Dickinson had her Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and I have my Thomas Robert Higginson2, a man, poet himself, who became my muse.
In some ways there is startling similarity in how these writers became correspondents and more, so essential to the making of our poetries. Both Higginsons are writers in their own right—I am simply astonished by how much is shared. What channeling my Thomas Robert Higginson seems to have accomplished of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, both men assuming similar roles in the lives of female poets. Roles they were born into, inevitabilities:
“MR. HIGGINSON,—Are you too deeply occupied to say if my verse is alive?
The mind is so near itself it cannot see distinctly, and I have none to ask.
Should you think it breathed, and had you the leisure to tell me, I should feel quick gratitude.
If I make the mistake, that you dared to tell me would give me sincerer honor toward you.
I enclosed my name, asking you, if you please, sir, to tell me what is true?
That you will not betray me it is needless to ask, since honor is its own pawn.”
April 26, 1862 (excerpt)
“MR. HIGGINSON,—Your kindness claimed earlier gratitude, but I was ill, and write to-day from my pillow.
You asked how old I was? I made no verse, but one or two, until this winter, sir.
I had a terror since September, I could tell to none; and so painful as I supposed. I bring you others, as you ask, though they might not differ. While my thought is undressed, I can make the distinction; but when I put them in the gown, they look alike and numb… and so I sing, as the boy does of the burying ground, because I am afraid… When a little girl, I had a friend who taught me Immortality; but venturing too near, himself, he never returned…for several years my lexicon was my only companion. Then I found one more… You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog large as myself, that my father bought me. They are better than beings because they know, but do not tell. They are religious, except me, and address an eclipse, every morning, whom they call their ‘Father(3)’”
Art credit: Gary Frier, South Africa, @gary_frier
Long before I knew my Thomas Robert Higginson, as well as I now do, he had written a review of my book Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler and it is quite telling to share that review at the outset, for it reveals his interest in the life of this poet:
“Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler is the sixth book by Thylias Moss, her first after grabbing one of the MacArthur Genius grants. Her work has changed—moved further out, encyclopedia-ized. She has memories of playing jacks sans hands, Thalidomide-esque, but all it is, is nose-sucking, the end of the world.
Included are The Brothers Grimm, Zora Neale Hurston, Amy Clampitt, and Stanley Crouch: this is a thin volume, but spectacularly dense, provocative (is her cheating poem about Lazarus “cheating” death? or her and her husband’s affairs?). To read her Susan Smith/baptizing poem is to be horrified—yet, as Moss posits, ‘’tis poetry’s job.’ The long, more formal open-field works, particularly ‘Advice,’ ‘Sour Milk,’ and the title poem, all break new ground. I want the book! I want the movie!”
Thomas Robert Higginson
(nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award)
It is when I read this passage from Thomas Wentworth Higginson:
“Once set foot on such an island and you begin at once to understand the legends of enchantment which ages have collected around such spots. Climb to its heights, you seem at the masthead of some lonely vessel, kept forever at sea. You feel as if no one but yourself had ever landed there; and yet, perhaps, even there, looking straight downward, you see below you in some crevice of the rock a mast or spar of some wrecked vessel, encrusted with all manner of shells and uncouth vegetable growth;5”
it was when I read that passage that I realize how similar these men are, aware of the beauty of the world, that interest in being connected—all this is essential, for the gestation and subsequent birth of collaboration, an extension of sharing, and admitting that no one entity knows everything, nor even what “everything” is, for such knowledge would require a foreknowing of completion, as there is no “everything” until there is an ending as point of reference, so that everything including that which will contain that everything, even just a thought of it, may be included, and whose thought?—for each thinker, each experiencer has a sense of everything, a personal understanding, not universal, and yet each one true. Perspective and point of view, real, but not quantifiable, in a general sense of definition. The specialness of what was forming, both of us aware, and not questioning it as if a destiny neither one of us could control nor wanted to control.
He called this truth our “US-ness.”
A great word and he has invented many, whenever there is need, whenever the rare and impossible are born, the only children He and I will ever have, and who can say how many children these children will have? How many populations? Descendants of all time just as time itself gave birth to our connection.
I noticed how in so many of the letters, Emily Dickinson addresses her friend as “Mr. Higginson,” something I do also to my Mr. Higginson. I noticed Emily’s habit of thanking her Mr. Higginson, something I do too, for how can I not thank this man who was the singular vehicle for my return? from so many things that set out to derail me from a life of joy and love? —a life of poetry? He has signed correspondence to me as “Higgzy,” “Higgs,” or “Thomas Robert”—most often I simply address him as Mr. Higginson; I like the formality of that, a simple title bestowed on him.
How do I thank the man who has done so much?
And I must thank him; this generosity is astonishing to me; never imagined it would happen. Was I looking for this? I must have been.
I think that I was looking for him, without realizing I was, when I developed “Limited Fork Theory,”(6) a way of understanding how all things are connected, “limited” in that we are bound by our abilities to notice and a related inability to meaningfully notice everything that exists or has existed or ever will exist. Bound to the limits of our senses, those devices for accessing
information and bringing it inside ourselves where it is processed for meanings, some of which are just beauty often expressed through ways in which what is accessed sings. And not all senses of all things access the same information and certainly do not process it the same way which is also beauty and variety.
I am always amazed by these ranges.
Both deficits and extensions of senses, that measure differently yet refer to related realities, that expand in both space and time, sometimes the same things expressed differently, and here is where personal preferences contribute to a delicious complexity of it all. For instance, the blind experience both increases and decreases, elsewhere, yet not all is even seeable, and the mind itself is able to perform some seeing for which conventionally functioning eyes are not required and would interfere with meanings issuing from a certain visual range, while acknowledging that human seeing does not include an entirety of the visual spectrum.
All means available to us for measuring how existences are experienced, are limited, and without collaborating, without sharing, without augmenting our own perceptions, there is little chance of moving beyond our limited understandings, limiting them even further and our understandings
even further. Limited by limitations themselves limited by other limitations, all ranges outside of “everything” are necessarily limited. Takes a conglomeration, a community of all seeing to produce a more accurate understanding of seeing, not seeing; understanding, not understanding; comprehending, not comprehending, and so forth.
A realization that everything has significance has burdened this writer; I have even felt guilt about what I have failed to notice. And I cannot even know what all of that is. So, I realize that making is collaborative. All things have a part in whatever I consider, and all things that have a part are collaborators. Nothing I do is done alone, in every part of everything I do, others contribute, without exception; unseen people and things, even spores about to burst with no more than possibilities, building blocks of proteins, enzymes, atoms, linking, connecting into molecules, fabulous chains of existence, substances whose contributions are invaluable, and they should be thanked, in the very least acknowledged as being our co-makers. Unseen things, and
that which has attempted to manipulate these things. Such awareness totally transformed my life; I self identified as “Forker Gryle,” even on Facebook, until I was told that “Forker Gryle” did not sound like a real name, although I had been in the world, teaching and living, using this identity since 2004. Renaming of self to better understand the changing is essential.
Why a fork?
Look at all the opportunitunies for turning corners; each tine of a fork is just such opportunity, and they can fold and twist back on themslves. Even shadows
find ways to extend themselves, connect and collaborate, and this is a rather intimate gesture, for how to touch withot intimacy? –even if brutal, for that is still a connection. Does not have to be pleasant, but I prefer when it is. I have yet to find a way. And every pink strand of Forker Gryle (Thomas’s spelling) is a tine of a fork: here’s an excerpt from “New Kiss Horizon“:
“What I really like is how you get the sexy science; you understand Forkergirl Particle Pops a Beaded Multiverse —and you fill every universe in this multiverse, my multiverse is all you. I know that you like the forking me on Facebook where we reconnect, and you like even better the theory behind her, that pink hair just like those pink flowers I love so much, especially Clitoria, you like that flower too” — that flower that is part of this tiny body, Thomas, and you kiss it on the iPhone when we talk, daily now leading up to when you can Kiss it in person. And I kiss you on the screen also…
Excerpt From: Thylias Moss. “New Kiss Horizon.” iBooks.
Consider the hand, or a tree with its hand-like branches; please note how fingers are branches of a hand, yet are connected, those branches rooted, even from what is referred to as the lifeline. Now also consider this; there is no limit to how many branches may exist or into what a branch may point to, or that a branch, like an arrow may connect, harshly or gently, perhaps each branch leading to something different, simultaneously, a road, a means of access both, in at least, to and from some location for some duration of time, those locations which could be any dimension, past, present, future; any parcel of time itself, and each branch may further subdivide and branch itself, those bends, those curves, those mobius branches, for those are possibilities also, those knots on a hand, those moles of dark tunnel, those cancers of opening new roads, all connected somehow to a singular hand of some sort, each part making a connection with something.
For connecting tends to be intimate, a touch of some sort, recognitions of humanity, that touch that brings all together, for no matter how briefly, something has been shared, each entering this temporary partnership differently than they leave, for something of each participant remains and
this happens in every interaction, something is left and something is taken away, mixtures, endless mixtures, masalas everything, fiestas of possibilities, changed forms changing further and further, the more interactions occur. And parties involved in an interaction are forever changed by this very partnership, temporary though it may be, of interacting; each now knows more about an other, and this is so useful, for this knowledge lasts and as subsequent interactions are made, particles of what has been shared, exchanged in a previous interaction are shared at some level, on some scale, in some location with whatever is next touched, for some duration of time.
Mighty Forms of embrace.
All temporary, unless, until, and here is where hope may harm as one entity of a connection seems to bend, twist, curve out of contact; however, when connection is made, there is memory of it, and this memory does enhance what may occur in a subsequent interaction: it becomes easier for these entities to connect again. Perhaps in a stronger bond that too may be permanent. A priming for interacting, for connecting. A risk that must be taken for the sake and possibility of change itself. We should not remain as we are, ideally improving as ultimately, we are sure to do. I have that kind of faith, that kind of naiveté if that is what is needed to believe in an ultimate improvement system, some things so limited, so contaminated that growth itself is thwarted, falls short; they refuse to improve and are left behind as the change machine of existence continues, plowing through field after field, upturning hope buried under rigidities that must give up control; those delicate flowers manifesting thorns and other forms of armor that allow their very beauty to exist, their scents to become better atmospheres. Bouquets of hope, Hopeful Garden spots freckle landscapes; so this is where we live now, all Pollyannas do, becoming pollyanna in interactions, some of that goodness, that optimism, rubbing off and onto every participant who interacts with this more rugged hope, more likely to survive, circle game after game, concentric circles widening, that embrace becoming bigger and bigger, wider and wider, the best possible circular-esque rip in spacetime, the colorful and productive circulating destinies that now come into and out of view, reachable view. Grab it! That brass merry-go-round and round and round ringing roulette wheel of chance liberties, libraries of liberties, each with a trailing ribbon that suffices for hair of the world, and wind, melodies of movements, concertos all. Nourishing also. Why not believe in this and make it true? What palate does not prefer the taste of this, so long as there is no other food, the breast milk root, child itself of prolactin: O lucky hormone.
There is no limit to how many times forms of entities that have connected may reconnect, for each connection or form of collaboration changes what has connected, making it easier for them to connect again. There is memory of having been connected. And that ease is hope when the
connection has been beautiful, which is what I emphasize, in my preference for the beautiful possibilities.
Love is one of them.
In July 2011, I nearly died when a cranial aneurysm ruptured, and I consider this the most fortunate thing that ever happened to me, for it allowed a friendship with my Mr. Thomas Robert Higginson to blossom into a fulfillment that it never could have blossomed into without that rupture.
A rupturing through which a salvation entered; I literally was looking out the window from the couch, and saw the sky seem to break, as if a rainbow had become a colorful saw, each color lengthening and bending, a tooth growing able to split the sky it was tasting, dripping slobber as
the colors themselves, more ropes of tasty rainbow, the licorice of it all. It was a moment that had me run onto the deck, to see this splitting better, to be a more involved witness, my t-shirt reflected nothing but colors, I was only part of a spectrum of energy and colorful wildness, I was transmitting this rainbowed effect, a job I took most seriously, passing along information, being only a connector which is what I was even with my co-learners, a sharer of information. I had helpers, lots of them, everything that existed and was able to transmit in whatever ways it could impart the knowledge that it was still acquiring, information never static, but constantly adapting
Without this rupture there would have been no rapture of Thomas Robert Higginson in my life.
—it could be just his nature to help others,
for me the rupture, those neurons, my cranial rosebush, as it were, a stunning pink flower blossomed in my head, a bouquet that life itself gave me, preparing me for something else, a romance with existence and with Thomas Robert himself, in my head—that is what the rupture gave me in a collaboration with a localized, blood-filled balloon-like bulge in the wall of a blood vessel, fertilizer of a sort.
Everything is poetry, this is what I have come to believe after nearly losing my life, and Thomas Robert Higginson was waiting for me—I didn’t know he would be, although I had appeared in a movie he produced in 1990 or thereabouts, The United States of Poetry, where I met him in Chicago for the movie shoot. How innocent that was, but connection indeed, a beginning of our physical collaboration; our words had already touched and enmeshed. For once connection happens, it is easier for reconnection to occur as what has reconnected remembers that it has
connected before, and no matter how changed these entities have become, there is on some cellular or sub-cellular level, addresses of the internal heavens for instance; there is some memory that these entities should connect. My belief for which I have not lived long enough to either prove or disprove.
I am limited;
my own thinking goes only so far, each of my senses also has limits, and I cannot remove them all, but I can collaborate, make stuff with others and their differing limits. That is what happened with Thomas Robert Higginson. When I survived the fortunate rupture of that aneurysm, on 23 July 2011, released from the hospital to the disbelief of everyone on 9 October 2011, I lay on the couch at home, and saw light enter the room in a way I had never seen it enter, as if the sky itself had had an aneurysm. I saw everything differently from that moment; I myself
astonished to be alive. Just alive. Nothing else mattered. And then began the task still underway of reclaiming life, with which I was already collaborating, more aware of my limits then than ever.
It was in this heightened and necessary sense of being that I read some of Thomas Robert Higginson’s poetry again, and found things there all along, but that I had somehow overlooked; it took that reorganization of my brain and an admitting of the impossibility of knowing everything, and a looking into that poem and realizing that there were locations to take further, to actually turn corners introduced there, to journey into the lines and find much more than it would ever be possible to locate if I looked only through my even more limited and incomplete lens system. Those microscopic universes even became essential, those worlds that lived unseen on us; a tool of a poet also became a microscope, and a telescope –any and everything that helps access, for if unaccessed, cannot be considered.
Yes; the work of making. The peeling away of layers and the accessing surface after surface, for surfaces are where things occur. Interior surfaces. Surface of the heart, brain, spleen, Thomas Robert Higginson’s poems, So much there, and I became determined, a hunger that I cannot
fully explain, and that is a good thing for to be able to “fully” explain something is to be a mystery thief, one thing that I hope remains impossible, and I will work to make it so.
Thankful to have finally had a baby in 1991 —all of this leading to that moment of when Thomas Robert Higginson could enter my life in a most real way, taking me beyond my limitations to new limitations—for limitations—in some form exist. Death being considered one such limit. But I was not yet collaborating with life as I needed to. For collaboration is a
way of exceeding limits, in my case, traps. I had searched my whole life for an opportunity such as what the rupture afforded me, for “rupture” is so close to “rapture”—that is never lost on me.
About my finding so much in his work, my Thomas Robert Higginson said this:
“Here’s what I think — I think somehow I’ve become a fuckin muse, and that’s just fine with me so long as you keep pouring out the outpourings. That’s right, Write On, o! Great Crusader of the Pen Nib.”
The big question is what happened to allow me to see further? And why that day? What did the angle of light entering my house have to do with it? And could this precise angle be repeated? I knew I was recipient of something most rare, and I didn’t want to lose this gift.
It began, all of it, in collaborations with poetry, with daily my finding unexplored locations in his work, and I traveled; from the beginning, he took me places I had never been. One of us would write a line or stanza and send it to the other, adding a line, a stanza, and before you knew it, there was a new poem, something neither one of us would have written separately. Realizations possible only via connection; ideas the other may not have had; poetry itself is that great thing that always connected us, metaphors and the like, expressions, tastes, things barely there in abstract ways. First the writing connected, first we each realized something special in the writing the work of the other, and it made so much sense that a collaboration, a reaching beyond what one could accomplish would extend itself to a corporeal realm, and connect, collaborate there also, and what a grand connection that also was, profound, words, bodies, and everything, for the words are part of the body—through and complete connection in every way—you do not find this often, And once this manner of connection happens, though the components may for a time seem to go their own ways, their own ways have forever been changed, and they find their way back to each other, their paths having been rewritten by coming together in the first place
surviving tremendous interference from that which was outside the bond. Tiny essences remain, Poams and Poems themselves reinforced by these things we believe, these things defying senses and usual ways of knowing. Proof, of something greater than either part separately. Naturally we would explore what becomes possible in a corporeal way then the physical sources of the poems come together in something a simple as a Kiss,
And then came a chance to actually be with this man, and that was nearly beyond my ability to conceive. We met in Chicago for that movie Thomas produced, and when I had an opportunity to go to Chicago to accept an award, naturally, I thought of someone accompanying me, and I thought of him, and what he had been saying to me about his always having been interested, waiting in fact, 25 years just to Kiss me was the beginning stanza of a poem we would write together , would be together, collaborating as nothing has ever collaborated.
He said we would : “make the poetry of this and that, the poetry of everything, the poetry of my being with you; the poetry of you being with me, the poetry of us together; the poetry we’ll be writing all over the bed, all over the room, whole weekend of poetry, that whole lifetime.”
These makers attempt, these makers try, experiencing instant chemistry that is simply poetry connecting their bodies. “There is nothing else to breathe, only the deliciousness of air that has
touched your lungs, has been purified there, crystal molecules that spell out your name, even your hair that I’ll finally touch becoming that Thomas Robert Higginson alphabet, where every word translates into pleasure…”
“Very soon, Thomas Robert; —I have been waiting for this moment!”
“Not nearly as long as I have! Twenty-five years for me!—don’t forget that! —all that I’ll be thinking about is seeing you, holding you, touching you for the very first time; already Wonderland for me. My understanding is that in Wonderland, the only utensil is a fork —all anybody in Wonderland, ever needs.”
“At this late date, a couple of necessary questions, please. If that’s all right.”
“Well, what do you want of me, ideally? —I know sex; I invited you for that purpose. Guess at this late stage, I’m wondering just what your intentions are with me. I’ve made it quite clear that I’m interested, very interested in making love with you —in fact, I would like for you to
make love to me, and I’ll make love back… I want one beautiful, exceptional weekend; ideally, you’ll want much more from me —but I need to know your intentions… ”
“This is brilliant and clear and bone honest, Dream Baby. And I can say I want the same. IDEAL:LY is a great word. You don’t get hung up on what obstacles, just quotidian reality boring shit, IDEALLY must overcome And I take my cues from you on the Drunken Boat Grid, the Full Body Grid, the Total Life in a Weekend Grid, the Pulse of Morning Grid, the Sky Blue Dress Grid, your tender touch my body gloving you. See? I rabbit hole down go why not stay there
long as possible no way out whoosh it’s morning. Alarm clock. Bzzbzzz. Hello, Dream Baby Thylias, it is Mr. Higginson, For me, aged sixty-six, it is still, Hey, ya never know. And I wouldn’t say it except you really want to ask directly and you yourself have set this Truth Grid and I can negotiate it as I can, and I don’t know if this will be our only time. On the Truth Grid I can only say I do not know: I think this might be our only weekend, yes. But I do know that I anticipate a lot for and from our time together, and that looms lives as long as it took to get here, the intricacies, details, loop whorl menagerie. I want us to just do and be and live and penetrate the Universe with our Us-ness. Can that be done on the Truth Grid, Tine Forker Dream Baby Thylias? —Can it?”
Excerpt From: Thylias Moss. “New Kiss Horizon.” iBooks.
And this these poets attempt, these makers attempt, and I have the best Kiss of my life, endowed with all the feelings, for I find myself in the arms of a poem, a poem written for me, and a poem written about me, and he is a poem for me, and I am a poem for him, as if he has never seen a poem before, poetry is born right then, and we would be the discovers of it, if poetry had not already existed.—and I am forever changed by the collaboration of our bodies, there is nothing like it. There will never be anything like what Thomas Robert Higginson and I, Thylias Moss, two poets make in collaboration on every level through with anything may touch, make, create, and Be, penetrating every connected universe with the Best Love ever, that instant chemistry was simply poetry connecting their bodies. A Kiss.
Talk about collaborations, well, I felt orgasmic just from that poet’s Kiss. The first time I had ever felt such things. Our finest collaboration, senses operating beyond what anyone would have said was possible, the finding of a more that can never be fully demolished, a Kiss that can never be duplicated as that is a moment unlike any other. Monument also. Everything.
He is in my Life, and I am in his Life. Permanently.
“See, I will be writing to and about you for the rest of my life. No matter what. As you yourself said: “That’s the truth of it. Everything. It means so much. It means everything.” —You wrote that to me, and now I write it back; does it really matter who initiated any of this at this point?
It is, I continue, for old times sake, for looking out for “our” past to find “our” future, whatever it is, as if I could ever forget you, and I assume that even though you do not acknowledge me right now, you know who I am, and know what we had together. For you are part of it, whether or not you want to be.
You cannot erase it; it is established, we are the monuments of what we accomplished.
So many wonderful things to be said about Thomas Robert Higginson, a writer of course. From somewhere in the Universe?
The solar system?
Well through him,
I have felt that I have known the universe, visited stars without getting
Burnt or breathing poisoned air,
Think my lungs adapted to be able to maintain respiration processes dependent on his cologne, Dakar —I never forget that, and when the atmosphere cooperates, which is every day, I move through a Dakar soup, rather primordial from which existence begins again and again and again, whenever I am with him, which also includes thought, ideas that collaborate with him, connect with him. All the time. Our connection is that profound. Our writing talks to each other, and the conversation, the poetry that comes out of these conversations, are transcripts of the experience. I did things with him I will never do with anyone else, unless an instant connection is felt, unless there is instant chemistry.
I am sorry that I felt a need to make you real —I wanted to claim my space and time in your life; I wanted to make clear that I was with a “real man.” And that you were with a “real woman.” That I made up none of it. That there really is a past to look out for,” “to [try] to find our future,” that a “future was not yet written,” etc. It is poetry afterall. It is meaning afterall. It is truth. All we have ever had is truth,
I do not know what happened to us; I think I misunderstood something important and basic about him: everything is poetry.
I am not sure how to recover this as he has asked me not to contact him further. But we will come back to each other; this is just a natural and temporary split in the constant ebb and flow of existence. I just happen to write this during the ebbing part of the cycle. Tomorrow and many tomorrows later, flow will resume, as we collaborate with Andy Goldsworthy.(7)
But this was purely the foundation of us. Everything is poetry, including and especially sex; in some ways the body’s greatest achievement.
It is not that I cannot write without him, but what I write is better, reaches further, moves further out, travels to locations I would never consider without the inspiration, the motivation of his eyes, his thoughts, his ears; his senses extend my senses, and it hardly matters which of one of us begins a poem, when we make it together, it always travels to locations neither of us could take it alone, and that is the beauty, the distance discovered. Discovery is the outcome of our collaboration, perhaps also the point, and, Oh, the surprise! That to be writing for as long as we have been writing and to still find surprise. Our poems Love each other probably better than Thomas Robert Higginson and I love each other.
But we try.
I am still pulling for “US-ness” –you know I am and always will be. Forever beside him on a bridge in Chicago. Sacred ground now, as is room 304, a hotel room that is already immortalized. For that is where we make stuff, and realized we really could. Chicago. Manhattan. Ann Arbor. Detroit. Minneapolis. Wherever we go this power goes with us, this voracious power that is never the power of one, but the power of two, so coiled together, they are inseparable. Pull them apart, and there is an ordinariness never possible when they make together, that exchange of the bits and bytes, neurons of the machinery, even the machinery of our minds. Buzz, Buzz; we are working. We are making. Even making love, Love of each other and Love of poetry. Inseparable love supreme.(8)
What You Can’t Understand Is Poetry Is Connected to the Body Again —Truth directly from Him; truth we told each other, tell each other; truth that made it necessary for us to actually touch, to make that “US-ness:” already real and truth, gospel truth to us, also truth in the world to which we are connected and with which we collaborate, every moment of every day, whether or not we are physically together, for in my mind I certainly am, sometimes so exasperated with him, but loving him just the same.
He is a real man, a living collaborator, and I accept the eccentricities and inconsistencies of realities; he is definitely part of them, but when we get together, such magic happens. If I were to see him right now, just being honest; I would be unable to keep my hands off him; I might try not to touch him, every moment wanting to fail. He knows this also, for we have collaborated so deeply and thoroughly, he knows exactly what I feel, And with him, always with him. I will never be free of him. And more importantly, I do not want to be free of him, not really, for writing this, revisiting the journey of our collaboration makes me realize again as if for the very first time how special our coming together is. He once said I was bad, and added that that is a good thing. And he is right. I was bad with him, in all possible good suggestions of bad, except for tying him to the bed; adventurous, eager to know the full realms of pleasure; full throttle —I was fully alive with him, and responded breathlessly to everything he did, and he responded to everything I did, and he said he wasn’t worried, because from the beginning, he could tell how much I liked everything he did; I didn’t know that level of compatibility existed. I had no idea —do you think for one minute that I want to give that up?
Both Poetry and Sex, for they are indeed equivalent
—Maybe I wouldn’t be writing this were I not missing him right now.
But talk about collaboration, and I have to talk about sex, that give and take, that take and give, the most erotic spell —spell, because it is so magical, like nothing else, oh the basic mechanics of sex are the same for most people, I presume, but they lack our motivation and reason for collaborating in the first place— most erotic spell in my life, yes; my whole life; the only sex in my life worth talking about is sex with Thomas Robert Higginson, that poetry of our bodies.
I am glad that he is such a noisy lover; I was always aware of what gave him pleasure. Just as he is aware of what gives me pleasure. He was determined to find out. I admit that I become a little sex machine with him, but only with him; something about him exposes feelings and connections that are with him and because of him. Face it, I am aware of how I look, and aware of how I look to him. So many men approach me because of how I look, not understanding that my look does not mean that just any man gets some. You do not realize what Thomas Robert does, and of course he was really after what every man seems to be after, but he was smarter than most because he actually got it, because of how he allowed me to feel, because my feelings in this connection matter to him. He didn’t want me to pretend, something that never occurred to
I am not one who has faked an orgasm, if I feel it then you will know it, and so far I have genuinely felt that only with Thomas Robert; I didn’t know until I felt it, although I had once been married for forty years. He really should be proud of himself. And f of course, there is also what he felt, and I assure you that I know a lot of what he felt, all that energetic thrusting as we collaborated with and became tangled in sheets. What he did standing behind me as I tried to look out the window, but looking at him is so much better.
You do not understand, but from the very first time, we came together like hand and glove. In fact, given what he talked about I don’t think he has any inhibitions in connecting. He told me that anything I desire would be mine. He talked about my tender touch in our collaboration, his body gloving me —do you realize how physically close we had to be for this to happen? It was sometimes more like masturbation, and we did that too, together somehow, a whole weekend of sex—we met for that purpose. We were really collaborating when he said this: “I guess this is awkward. Not sexy. But there’s so much going on the planet Us that my head is spinning. Not unpleasant, mind you. But the view’s quite complicated. When what I want see. All I really want
to see. Is a clear view of all of you. And me” I don’t like when men approach me just for sex, usually because of how I look; puhlease! He said this and he meant it. Thomas Robert adores how I look, part of the collaboration; part of what drew him to me, and part of what drew me to him, and now I look even more like an ideal woman for him; exactly his type, a woman who cares about him so very deeply, the very long hair, all of it natural and, as if it grows just to connect with him, wherever he goes in the world, those black patterns and designs in asphalt are really filaments of my hair; reaching out to Thomas Robert, and he is not afraid of this; in fact, he expects it, and sometimes has wondered why it has taken me so long to allow my hair the same full reign that he encourages in me.
I love that about him, and many other things with which every memory of mine collaborates: “Well what I want you to know is this I’ve carried a torch for you since I first laid eyes on you. And if we’re ever alone, whatever you desire shall be yours.
What an extraordinary woman you are, Thylias! Your directness is not provocative, it is All Being, All the Tine (to use your language!). My body reacts to your written words as if you were touching me, it’s amazing and I like it I like it I like it.”
And he was serious about how we would collaborate. I wish I had known more then than I did that first time with him; I love when his voice called out strongly; everyone knew what we were doing, the volume suggested that he wanted others to know that he was with me, because I am a prize and he knew how victorious he is, and I wanted others to know that I am just as proud to be seen with him, for he is also a prize for me, and he kept busy enjoying every ounce of pleasure he could from my tiny body.
Such intensity of pleasure,
and I was glad to be doing all of it with him, the tickle of his mustache, and feeling his mustache every-time we Kissed, OMG —a little bit of champagne! —also his tongue in my ear —I almost couldn’t stand that, and my first thoughts that all of him would never fit inside me, but he did, and he had all kinds of lubricants just in case.
He really prepared for this as if he was being ordered to the mines, and there was just the mine he was heading to, a homing device, the taste of me, right between my collaborating legs. I was a fuckin muse for him just as much as he became a fuckin muse for me.
I can’t believe I am saying all this, for the sake of collaboration, much more than simply sex, for this was the actual writing of an indelible poetry right inside my body, and what a pen he had, every centimeter mightier than a sword. And he Kissed every centimeter of me, and I kissed every centimeter of him. I know you’re not supposed to Kiss and tell, but I must use superlatives about this man. It’s as if I didn’t really know what Poetry is, until we made love to each other. No parts of our bodies were off limits. Yes; we used condoms, but not for the oral parts, and there was lots of that. I really trusted this man, and he similarly trusted me. I have to admit that I liked his tongue the best, because with it, he wrote poems inside me, and my breathing punctuated them, the rhythms of the sex, oh my, oh my. We talked about this extensively, how condoms were an absolute necessity, the margins on the pages and pages of rarefied sex, just not
for the oral part, he asked, and I agreed. How else could I taste him, know a superb root of his poetry?
The best part of preparing to see each other to physically collaborate, beyond only with our minds that had already made love, but Thomas Robert asked, and he wasn’t shy about this; he knew what he wanted, and called me one night to talk me through my body, from head to toe, he told me exactly what he wanted to do, and asked if he could. If there are rules in collaboration, the first would be to ask; just to let me know what he wanted, and since it was a question, I had
opportunity to refuse, but I didn’t; just his asking the way he did, allowed me to want him, and then there is the sound of his baritone, the recording he made me so that I could have the soothing sound of his support as I wrote about him; just the sound of his voice makes me horripilate, little champagne bubbles of his inflection all over my arms, torso and legs, my breasts also. How I love the collaboration of my breasts in his mouth…He kissed away the goosebumps and then I got more just from his nearness, so he could never stop Kissing me and holding me, gloving me just as he said; I even had a Brazilian wax to invite him in, oh the languages his tongue spoke inside me, and the melodies of my mouth sliding up and down him.
There are no words,
and here is where I lose my poetry, because there comes a point where words are insufficient; he and I didn’t even talk in usual ways of talking, sign languages instead, the way we looked at each other, the warmth of his palms, the smoothness of his chest. I didn’t tell him this, but from the moment his hand touched mine in O’Hare, the first connection of his flesh and my flesh, I started feeling sensations that became full-fledged and unstoppable desire by the time we were outside the airport and he opened his coat, and welcomed me inside it with him, and the only air then was his Dakar. My nose is always looking for the scent of him; it isn’t just Dakar that anyone may buy, but the scent of Dakar on his skin, a scent unique to him. Thomas Robert Higginson was prepared for anything that might happen. We were writing a very different kind
of poem, in that extreme collaboration, of our bodies: tongues and fingers everywhere. That touching without limits. Stanza of Kiss, onomatopoeia of Kiss also, metaphor of everything that exists from those fiery touches, he said the fire would meld us together and it did, because this wasn’t the primary goal of our connection, —which is poetry— but a completion; it wasn’t just sex at all, but so much more; he indeed wanted to collaborate that way also, but he is smart enough, he feels enough not to ask me for only that, the way too many men do; he never rushed me but knew what I would need to feel, and that is it right there; I have to feel it or I can’t do it; I had to really desire him just as he really desires me; I had to want to collaborate with him physically; that is what is important; I wanted to do everything I did with him.
There is no part of each other that we did not explore, one way or the other. I am remembering the first time with him because that set the tone for everything that followed. It was easy because we had already Kissed in the taxi all the way from O’Hare to the hotel, and I had no idea that I would respond to him as I did, this 60-year-old woman making out with a 66-year-old man in the back seat of a taxi, but I was hoping; the physical things he promised as no one can ever promise because it was him, that is the only reason; he is the only reason.
Art credit: Vivian Nimue Wood, @viviana_boscardin, Vale d’ Aosta, Italy
My Thomas Robert Higginson knew how to do everything exactly the way I needed for them to be done. Somehow he just knew, and he didn’t approach me just for the physical enactment of our connection, but I am so glad he wanted that —I would have felt insulted otherwise; the man does indeed have eyes, and so much more than that; he would make me laugh by telling me I had no idea what he can do, and he was right; I had no idea at all, for if he had told me that physically collaborating with him would cause me to feel, what I feel with him, I would not have believed him. And he did work far beyond the mere necessity of asking; Thomas Robert understood the kind of sex I needed, that is what he promised the kind of sex I needed, he made it his business to figure out just what it was, and knowing exactly what I needed, besides what we both wanted, made this the most fulfilling experience of my life that and how I responded to him thoroughly, We really collaborated in a most enticing and seductive way.
Don’t let his look fool you!
That man is far sexier than you may think. I ought to know. We collaborated in the shower; he can do simply amazing things. Anywhere. I ought to know because I did them with him. I’ve done that only in thinking about him, sometimes that dildo he gave me in hand. Yes; a lot of my
time with him —even time in my mind— was good and nasty, and that is a part of the complexity that makes being with him so good. Maybe I emphasize the physical right now, for what we have is complete, the cerebral and the nasty —even Einstein(9) did that,
What You Can’t Understand Is Poetry Is Connected to the Body Again
—Thomas Robert Higginson10
What You Can’t Understand Is Poetry
Is Connected to the Body Again
What You Can’t Understand Is Poetry
The title says it all and says it with a line break in case you think that “Spoken Word Poets” are not “Real Poets.” Real Poets eat line breaks for breakfast.
I love to read the title at a reading, parsing it out like this:
“What You Can’t Understand
(take a little pause here)
(big emphasis on IS, and a little pause, get ready for the matter-of-fact, always with us:) Poetry.”
The Perfect Lie. One always “understands” poetry! When you jump on the horse and it takes off, you don’t ask where’s it going, you exalt, here we go! No no. Wait. Reading a poem, that’s not like that is it? not like riding a horse?….
What you can’t understand is poetry – because it’s a mystery why poetry exists in the first place. Although you could actually say the same thing for language itself, which I suppose is what philosophers do. Which came first, the thought or the word? sounds Wittgensteinian to me.
It’s like when you say, something is lost in translation, what part is it that gets lost? The poetry. The poetry is what’s lost, get it? The joy is in knowing that what you don’t understand, exactly that, is a mix of sound and meaning, body and song that is, all together, what makes a poem
Again and again, not making sense! And this is what so many think (please don’t agree with them!) — that poetry is hard, obscure, difficult-to-impossible to understand.
WHEN IT WAS CONNECTED TO THE BODY YOU JUST DANCED IT—Who said that?!
Hey, hey, Order in The Poem! Let’s PLEASE stick to this first line of the title before releasing the second. So ok, let’s just say that the first line of the title is simply agreeing with what everyone is always saying – Oy, Poetry! You can’t understand it.
What You Can’t Understand Is Poetry
so we take a little pause here, in performance, and then (finally!) go on to:
And then a little pause here, so that it becomes: What You Can’t Understand is Poetry is Connected, which is another truism that’s actually a false-ism: the easy way is to say that – Poetry IS connected, is the essence, to life/to meaning , and, here back to the title (say it!) – To The Body. Now we’re getting to what the body of the poem is, and why this is the title – it’s about the physical, and when I think physical, the body, I think of Orality.
Even though we think of it that way, the dialectic is not Literacy and Illiteracy. Illiteracy simply designates an individual’s inability to read. Orality, as Walter Ong points out, is a separate and equivalent consciousness: when there’s no writing, the only way to pass things on is person-to-person, body-to-body. You could say, “We Are the Book.” This idea, devastatingly simple, is at the root of this poem, indeed, of my whole “body of work” as a poet. How to capture the way Poetry was connected to Existence, something that was inherent in Oral Consciousness, is what I’m after. It’s what my mother showed me – she didn’t read a book to me. The book was talking. In her voice.
Comes in after a pause. Because we used to “understand” this. In fact, “understand,” the way we understand understand, is totally colored by literacy. Before writing, there was a spew of sound that carried the speaker’s meaning – you’d ask the person to explain what they meant, but you never asked someone what a word meant because – there were no words! Before writing there were no words there was only meaning, and I know that seems crazy but again only because we don;’t get what a different consciousness Orality is. When writing began, there was no separation between words because what was being said came at you like a block of meaning, not words arranged in a pattern.
And now, in this time of Literacy Consciousness, I am suggesting that we learn (unlearn?) to “connect the poem to the body again.” Since the triumph of Literature, Poetry’s voice has been owned by the book. And I love books, I write ‘em myself and read a lot – my walls are lined with them. And the quiet space midbrain where we read to ourselves? That is a private space where we are most ourselves, a holy space. But the Poem has another power, a power we left behind when we left Oral Consciousness behind. We can feel it as children, when we haven’t yet learned to read. Some kind of magic and musicality, inherent when reading aloud, that’s what I’m after, in general, in my work, and specifically in the two-lined title and following body of the poem known as:
What You Can’t Understand Is Poetry
Is Connected To The Body Again
The poem is divided into two stanzas, twelve lines and ten. Kind of ungainly and awkward as to line lengths, form doesn’t’t sit easily here, even if both stanzas end with four-word lines. The poem is prosy, it sort of seems to tell a story, even if we can’t quite tell what it’s about (the old “understand” bugaboo again), a story that makes headlines. It has a character with a name (Jean, named for Jean Howard, who I knew in Chicago as one of the first poets to use film to make poetry, someone who understood the non-separation of poetry performance), and it even ends with what may well be a joke. So it’s a Poem that evokes all manner of non-poetry forms – novel, play, journalism, joke.
Let me tell you a story: the “Plot” of the Poem
Jean allowed the body to drop
OK. Is this the “body” from the title? At least. Right after we learn that the body and poetry are connected again, our hero, Jean, drops the body! Is this so that her poetry is completely for the Intellect? Because as she drops the body (which we will later learn is her lover’s), the body dies.
The beautiful face bluing so perfect
“Beautiful” and “perfect” in the same line – ach! Redolent of romantic poesy, these are words that each signal Poem without the work, and here they are, together – the face is “beautiful” but dying (or dead? “bluing”) and thus can become “perfect.” What a move!
A move so insistent, so bold, so over-the top, that the only thing that can possibly cap it is line 3
A fly buzzed by—
Emily Dickinson! At her best! “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died” (Johnson #591/ Franklin #465). This sure enough is the way Death sounds, sigh. Well, the fly was buzzing and still is buzzing and forever will be buzzing as sure a sign of Death as the Death Haiku, that Japanese form where the dying poet holds quill and scroll and just as last breath escapes, concludes the final character of the final line – 5-7-5.
but no one would believe it
Dear Reader/Listener, you are perfectly within your rights to ask What is it that no one would believe? That our hero, Jean, would drop the body? That words like “beautiful” and “perfect” could conjure up dear Emily’s fly (“bluing” is pretty cool), the Essence of Death? Indeed, why is Jean even concerned that anyone believe that her lover/Poetry itself has died? Is she the murderer? Must she have the Truth be told, it’s what she as a Poet must do? All the above? We don’t know, so it’s all these things and probably more and we’re only at line 3, my God!
Because what happens next makes one thing pretty clear about our Ms Jean – she certainly does know how to get a story out. Since this is taking place during the Media Age Stage of Late Literacy, just before the Birth of the Digital Age,
She raced frantically to the offices of the National Enquirer,
the biggest, ever-lying, sleazeball publication of them all. Jean knows the world of print: to get the absolute widest possible distribution, the most explosive telling of this Death, it’s got to be — the checkout counter rag!
A reporter wrote up the story
The story of course is that the body died from lack of connection to the poem. And guess what,
—it made the cover.
And our story could end there, the headline “POETRY FOUND DEAD: BODY SEVERED FROM SOUL.” But Noooo. Jean has a bigger game plan. As Lines 6-7 state ,
Now she could get the attention of the radical newsweekly
That only told the truth
So first she goes for and gets the Big Blast Sensationalism Launch, and now she’s circling back to get the liberal Truth-tellers. She wants to get the story told to the biggest possible audience AND she wants it to be politically correct. Or at least be validated by the liberal media.
She just casually flipped it down on the desk
She may have raced frantically to get this into The Enquirer, to play into the demands of yellow journalism, but here for the thoughtful Voice or Nation, she plays it cool.
So cool that (Line 9)
“Hey,” an editor
(she’s moving up, no mere reporter here!)
(truly literate, can read upside-down!)
said. What if this story is true?
(you can never be sure about Enquirer stories – but something in Jean’s demeanor….)
It would certainly change
(they had a story? How interesting? What could that have been?)
maybe we should look into this.
So the radical newsweekly already has the story but it is Jean’s version of the Body dying from lack of connection to the poem, for which, even filtered as it is through the hyperbole of the Enquirer, the radical newsweekly is willing to Stop the presses!
It’s an image I loved in black & white, the massive whirling printing presses grinding to a halt, screaming headlines erupting. The news is overpowering!
We know that Poetry is News that Stays News (Pound), that it Makes Nothing Happen (Auden), that It Is Difficult / To Get The News From Poems / Yet Men Die Miserably Every Day / From Lack / Of What is Found There (Williams – Rich used the last six words as the title for her great book of essays).
Hey! Stop those presses!
Now we understand, as Jean understands, that the life, music, vitality of the poem can never be separated from the poem’s meaning. By physicalizing the so-called Death of Poetry, she in fact shows us that poetry will never die. THAT POETRY IS CONNECTED TO THE BODY AGAIN and the single voice and vision of our poet-hero Jean is going to make, well, not sure what, let’s call it Nothing. Make Nothing happen. But I mean, make it really happen.
She does. She just puts an end to the literary tradition, right then and there. We get the poem to the book and then our job is done. Gets published, distributed, bought, and read. Each step of course is fraught with complications, and at the end maybe 2000 copies will sell, but hey, this’s a poem, so let’s just give it the drama that Mayakovsky did when he demanded an airplane with propeller whirling be parked outside his study so that when he finished one it would be whisked away to the publisher – not a second to lose.
The second verse begins, like the first, again with our hero, Jean. But now
Jean walked away. Horns were blaring,
Is it celebratory tooting, poetry’s reconnection being cheered on by the public at large? Or simply the continuing, ongoing noise of our blatting culture? Both? Both. The Poet’s Choice, as Gregory Corso once told me, “When somebody asks you to pick one, always take both.”
The cinematic vein of “Stop the presses!” continues,
It was a brilliant dusty sunset
Yes, in a poem you can pick both, and the unusable poem-word “sunset” can become even more golden when it’s “brilliant” and “dusty”
and the sirens were distorting.
Is it the Apocalypse brought about by reconnection of Poetry with Body (again)? Or is it Just the Apocalypse? Both (you’re getting it!).
It’s the end of The Terminator, of Snowpiercer, the end of every walk-into-the-sunset Hollywood potboiler poem ever written.
Jean has passed on the oral tradition into print. She has insinuated Orality into Text, clawing her way into the inner sanctum of the print medium. And, in so doing, she has preserved her lover’s face for all eternity.
She didn’t hear em.
What didn’t she hear? The car horns playing music – Beethoven? Ode to Joy? Guns N’ Roses? Randy Newman’s Faust? Aretha’s Respect? David Thomas’s Mirror Man? or Captain Beefheart’s, for that matter.
She was remembering her lover’s face
Yes, the action of creating art, of living her life in the service of Poetry, has caused her to lose the Poem Itself, the Source! Her lover’s face now fades in through the Apocalyptic Sunset Waltz, and now she does hear, not music nor horns nor sirens but words, just words and now it’s clearer, the conversation with her lover,
What they’d said about how you never know
True Poet lovers know you Never Know, echoing the poem’s title, and in that way stay connected – Poem as Body – but this line break skittering into riot control
If someone else’s orgasm is better than yours –
Yes! Exactly! Understanding a poem and demanding a locked-down analysis, forever footnoted and irrefutable, — who would know, who could know? The meanings keep changing. Eros is flowering out the mouth, People! Only the poem/orgasm stays the same.
But that shouldn’t stop you
from what? From having an orgasm? Well, yes, of course, but there’s more –
From coming together
Yes, that’s it! That’s what the poem in the oral mode is about – it’s about the audience experiencing together the meaning of the poem, the connection of the griot to the body politic, the poem bringing/giving Rapture that the listener accepts/understands. Brings all that inside.
Even if it’s not exactly
o! the quivering between Oral and Written, the twin mouths finding each other, that poem that is the kiss, not exactly, OMG whatever IS exactly, Jean, Jean you must not leave us in the vagueness of not exactly, the orgasm goes back inside …
At the same time
Yes, she said, Yes! “You never know if someone else’s orgasm is better than yours, but that shouldn’t stop you from coming together. Even if it’s not exactly at the same time.” Oh God! as these realizations ripple through the audience, wave after profound wave of orgasm, feeding each other, yes, coming together years later, why, it is – it’s a Poem! It can be read later, after the poet is long-gone dead, it’s still being read. You are coming with the poet years later as the orgasm of meaning reconnects you at that moment. Ah, Jean and Emily! The gentle laugh as her lover, dead and blued and perfect and gone gone gone, reconnects through the poem. The fly! The fly! Then the fly buzzed by
Art credit: Nathalie von Arx, Zurich, Switzerland
Blue Coming: After Bob Holman’s “What You Can’t Understand Is Poetry Is Connected to the Body Again”
Colorado Review – Volume 42, Number 2, Summer 2015
(in response to Bob Holman’s Poem: “What You Can’t Understand
is Poetry is Connected to the Body Again):
1 From a love poem Thomas Robert Higginson wrote for me, “You Are the Corner of My Eye”
2 A pseudonym
3 Excerpt From: Emily Dickinson. “Letters of Emily Dickinson.” iBooks.
4 How prophetic on his part, for this volume was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
5 Excerpt From: Francis Bacon, Ignatius Donnelly, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, C. J. Cutliffe Hyne, W. Scott Elliot & John, Third Marquess of Brute. “Tales of Atlantis.” iBooks.
7 “as in “Rivers and Tides” =, his definitive film about flow and collaboration, see that film here: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7sZv4_0Fxg>
8 A collaboration of Thylias Moss and Thomas Robert Higginson forthcoming likely in Nightboat, 2017, a collaboration that began as “Moving Dance of Reduction” with a quote by Bringhurst; Thomas Robert sent Thylias the initial salvo, and back and forth the emerging poem went until Thylias wrote the line “armadillo style” to which Thomas Robert responded “Wow!” and whenever Wow comes, the poem is done. Praises to armadillos. I never would have arrived at armadillo without collaboration through time and space with Thomas Robert Higginson. I will always love this expansion of space and meaning that I know only with him, my muse, and if that isn’t Love, what is?
9 “Einstein” — the Genius series on National Geographic <http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/genius/videos/einstein-chapter-one1/>
10 Published acknowledging the real man behind the pseudonym, Bob Holman.
11 “Blue Coming” was published in “Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code” by Thylias Moss, Persea Books, 2016, and in Poets & Writers online, also in 2016, where you may hear Thylias Moss read “Blue Coming”: <https://www.pw.org/content/wannabe_hoochie_mama_gallery_of_realities_red_dress_code>
About the author:
Thylias Moss, a self-employed multi-racial “maker” at Thylias Moss Writing LLC, is also Professor Emerita in the Departments of English and Art & Design at the University of Michigan. Author of 13 published books, and recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them a MacArthur Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, her 11th book, a collection of New & Selected Poetry, “Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code” (from Persea Books, October 2016) as part of Limited Fork Theory, an approach to making and thinking developed in order to assist co-makers and co-learners to become more collaborative in thinking and being. All about how things interact across all boundaries, and encouragement of interaction that becomes more meaningful over time; all have collaborators. Nothing makes alone, and everything makes; there is nothing that exists that does not make stuff in some form, which is also open: any form that becomes possible; invent whenever necessary. “Making” is not static, is evidence of life, as is book #12, collaborations, with Thomas Higginson, a collection of poems, Aneurysm of the Firmament, 2016 and a romance novel, New Kiss Horizon 2016, romance novel about Vashti Astapad Warren and Thomas Robert Higginson. Follow the lives of these characters beyond the book in Vashti’s Blog. She has also completed an as yet unpublished collection of prose poams: “LFMK (Looking for my Killer)” –an act of public service, currently being read by a potential publisher.
Art credits: Nathalie von Arx, Zurich, Switzerland. Gary Frier, South Africa, @gary_frier. Chris Rivera, @chris.rivera, Christopherjphotography@gmail.com. Vivian Nimue Wood, @viviana_boscardin, Vale d’ Aosta, Italy.
I hope that Thomas Robert Higginson whatever he has been to me, and whatever he will be to me without anyone interfering, does not mind this truth I am telling. If he did not want anyone to know we were connected in any way at all, it is much too late for that.
I recall so much that he has written and said, even when he talked about the soul crying out but that is for another time, and who knows? Maybe one day Thomas Robert Higginson and I will be together, and then maybe again, maybe we won’t, but whatever happens, it won’t be because of those who butt in and try to tell me who to care about and why, and also try to tell me about him. Unless he has told you what his connection is to me, I do not want to hear it, And if that makes me a fool for this man , at least I am a honest fool. For I have gone from a woman who nearly died to whatever it is that I am right now: this female in a cap.
I love this man, at least for now, and even my son now knows.
A wild ride for as long as it lasts, for as Thomas Robert himself said:
“explaining me back to me from your perspective, and through your lens.
So thank you infinitely for the gift of all possibility”
He said this, too, something I will always cherish:
“Of course that means ongoing, and how that works with collaborating, mutual performances, seeing each other etc etc —it’s all there, we just don’t know what yet, and that’s the beauty you have given us in this letter. The truth of it.
It means so much
It means everything”
As Palmer Joss says at the end of “Contact,” my favorite film, “I for one , believe her”
and I for one, believe Him.
Three prose poams from my LFMK collection of Prose poams: “Looking For My Killer: Where Controversy Breeds” currently being considered by Jamii, a publisher (I am hoping for the best possible outcome, and for women taking back the night; what sacrfice this woman is.
Let those of us who live thank her every day);
- “Earthquake Vash (Predicted by the Seismograph in the Heart)”
- “Small Virtue And Gimme Some A+Bliss
- “Status Report on Slinky Lust “and the video poam that reveals the public service that the narrator provides in this video poam: “Looking for My Killer, Where Controversy Breeds”
Words written by, sung by, text cheorography by Thylias Moss in an attempt to save other woman from such assaults and slayings. I also made the film itself, filmed myself walking streets of Saline, Michigan.
Why not there? Isn’t that the point? Women may be brutalized anywhere, even in their homes.
and now some of the tortured ad brutalized women:
The incoherent response by cops is just making the problem worse.
Between October 2013 and the end of this September, according to international reports gathered by the European group Transrespect versus Transphobia (TvT), 226 transgender people were murdered around the world. Most were trans women of color. Those numbers were gathered by painstakingly raking through news articles and by reports submitted through partner organizations in places like Honduras and Thailand.
The website for Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoF) has its own list of names of the dead, featuring some 700 trans people—mostly women of color, again—brutally murdered in recent years. TDoF’s list goes back all the way to 1970, but the bulk of the homicides took place between 2000 and 2012.
Both lists offer a horrifying record of hate. No murder is pleasant, but the killings of trans women tend to be particularly sick. Victims are dragged behind a car, burned alive, stoned to death, skinned, or—far too often—beaten to death in the middle of a crowded street or party.
It’s clear from the descriptions of these homicides that transgender women, especially low-income trans women of color, face an epidemic of violence and murder.
When two black trans women were murdered just six weeks apart in Baltimore this summer, trans women in the community told reporters they were terrified to go outside for fear of both the usual police harassment, and what appeared to them to be a targeted attack on their identities.
“It’s scary trusting anyone,” Baltimore’s LaSia Wade told the Guardian in August. “That bus driver, he could be the killer; that taxi man, he could be looking at me and thinking: ‘That’s a transgender woman, I’m going to knock her off.'”
So why do police keep arresting trans women of color who defend themselves during violent attacks? And why do so many murders of trans women not only go unsolved and remain under-investigated, but not even tagged by law enforcement as hate crimes?
“Usually what we see is homicides of low income trans women of color are the ones where police don’t respond as fast as they should with the forcefulness that they should. It’s not just a trans issue, then, but an issue of income and color,” Osman Ahmed, research and education coordinator for the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), said in an interview with VICE today.
NCAVP tracks violence data through 54 member organizations in 24 US states and Canada. Because the Department of Justice doesn’t currently track data on gender and sexual orientation, it can be frustrating to try and gather homicide statistics through law enforcement agencies.
In addition, the FBI’s annual Hate Crimes report is inherently flawed due to low participation. Critics cried foul in 2011 when the state of Mississippi reported only one hate crime, while cities like New York that have entire divisions devoted to tracking and investigating hate crimes consistently report more.
“In terms of the hate crimes stats the FBI publishes every year, it’s not a complete national picture,” said Ahmed, whose organization works directly with law enforcement agencies to increase both sensitivity and accountability when dealing with LGBTQ victims. “Whatever they are reporting is lower than what’s really going on. Especially with low-income trans women of color: they go missing and there’s no follow up, there’s no investigation.”
Ahmed told VICE that law enforcement doesn’t arbitrarily decide not to care about the homicides of transgender women. Instead, this is a deeply layered problem that has just as much to do with a history of police violence and community mistrust.
“Trans women of color are very much more likely to experience police violence after reporting hate violence,” said Ahmed. “Friends and family members of victims are less likely to approach police because of this kind of victim blaming as well as mis-gendering and transphobia.”
In fact, when transgender women of color go to police to report a violent attack, they are often themselves charged with a crime and jailed.
Take the case of CeCe McDonald, a young, black trans fashion design student who went to jail for manslaughter. Her crime? While in the midst of being attacked by a homophobic Neo-Nazi amped up on meth in Minneapolis, McDonald took a pair of fabric scissors out of her purse and held them in front of her. Her attacker ran toward her anyway, and later died from the stab wound.
McDonald was finally freed after 19 months of a 41-month sentence in a men’s prison, a place she never should have gone in the first place regardless of her conviction. Her release was on terms of good behavior, but the international protests and support of Orange Is The New Black actress Laverne Cox certainly didn’t hurt.
If only Eisha Love could be so lucky.
Love and friend Tiffany Gooden stopped to get gas at a station in Chicago when men began yelling slurs at the two black transgender women. One of the men punched Love in the face, and after realizing they were under attack, the two women got in the car and attempted to drive away, only to be pinned from behind by one of the men’s cars while the other tried to open the driver’s side door. Terrified, Love maneuvered the car around and hit one of the attackers, severely injuring his leg.
The two women escaped with their lives. But when Love went to file a police report detailing the attack, she was arrested.
Love is still in jail, charged with first-degree attempted murder. Her passenger Tiffany Gooden had no such luck—two months after the attack, she was murdered in the very neighborhood where the attack occurred.
Gooden’s mother has since told reporters that threats were made against her daughter. “They were saying they was going to kill her. They were saying they were going to get ‘his’ ass because ‘he’ was riding in the car.”
Chicago police are severely fucking this up. If law enforcement had investigated the attack on Love and Gooden instead of bizarrely throwing Love in jail, Gooden might be alive today.
Likewise, Orange County police fucked up Zoraida Reyes’ murder probe this June, at first claiming there were no signs of foul play even though her body was found in a dumpster behind a dairy queen. After regular community protests, OC cops later ‘fessed up that Reyes had been choked to death, and her killer was found in October. But even then, police refused to acknowledge the death was most likely a hate crime.
“For many, the lives of transgender people don’t matter and they’re viewed as disposable,” Reyes’ friend Jorge Gutierrez told the Los Angeles Times. “We know that her identity as a trans woman was a huge factor, whether the police want to acknowledge it or not.”
After four trans women were murdered over a 20-month period in Ohio, community members became frustrated with what they said was a refusal on the part of police to view the murders as even potential hate crimes.
“We hear from police departments that there is no reason to believe a crime is hate-motivated,” Aaron Eckhardt of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) told Buzzfeed. “For us in the community, that sounds like an affront. Prior to any real investigation happening, it is used to deflect conversation. We would like to hear that they are investigating all possibilities.”
When law enforcement agencies refuse to take murders of transgender women seriously enough to recognize them as hate crimes, it perpetuates a community mistrust that comes full circle when and if police do seek answers in murder investigations.
“Very often, from the beginning of investigations into the deaths of trans women, there is a lot of transphobia coming in to play, and that translates into the alienation of community members who would otherwise be able to help,” Ahmed told VICE.
Follow Mary Emily O’Hara on Twitter.
and this article:
The woman was arrested by the officer after the confrontation
The officer replied: “Why not?”
Next, Craig is seen getting closer to the officer and angrily shouting at him before her 15-year-old daughter attempts to stand between them.
The officer next wrestles Craig to the floor and handcuffs her before pointing his Taser at the daughter forcing her to lay on the ground.
Craig’s 19-year-old daughter Brea Hymond, who is thought to have filmed the incident, was also arrested.
One of the daughters got in the way of the officer and her mother before she was pushed out the way
“The involved officer has been placed on restricted duty status by the Chief of Police pending the outcome of the internal investigation.
The young daughter had a taser pointed at her before she was arrested by police
At a news conference earlier on Thursday evening, Star Telegram report that Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the family, said: “It’s not a situation where someone used a racial slur, but racism is still all over it.”
“If a white mother had called police about their son being choked, I guarantee that the officer would not have bypassed the suspect and arrested the mother.”
The man accused of assaulting the seven-year-old boy has not been arrested however police are still investigating the incident.
Walked up and down the three staircases in my building nine times today.
And these selfies are the outcome.
Hiding nothing, not even my bad teeth.
I am so very tired.
Tired and impatient.
I want my life to begin; I want the closing on my house so that I have only one address. I want to be loved just a tenth of the amount that I love. Surely I don’t want impossible things.
I live in Ann Arbor, not Ypsilanti, and I can’t even get facebook to understand that.
my ex called me this morning to say I obviously “love” the wrong man, if he can hurt me and not care that he is hurting me, saying noting, and that may be true. I do not care anymore;
and my ex is the last one to tell me how to get a man, since he is a man who couldn’t keep me.
I was 17, sitting in the lap of my ex. He was nearly 24. I made the pink skirt.
It has been a trying day already
So many people tell me not to love him (see below), but it is too late for that, because I do, and it is my heart to break, not yours. Because as I have said, once I give my heart, I give it, and if he chooses to abuse my heart, that is his choice, but tells me things about him.
I gave it, foolishly perhaps, as if I planned this, I didn’t.
If he wants to be just another in the string of men who have hurt me, starting when I was sixteen; I will be 63 in two weeks; if that’s what he wants to be, I guess he gets what he wants; I sure don’t since I –ouch!– still want him.
I don’t think I look unlovable. I have been completely honest. This is simply how I look, how I woke up, bad teeth and all, yet I smile anyway. At the end of the world, I will be smiling.
in his hat, of course.
I had the best conversation ever with my mother today,
and I will be posting a transcription on my Facebook page shortly, after I say this: You know I love you, and if you don’t want me to love you, that’s my problem isn’t it? I fell in love with you. You loved me also, I know you did. Everything you said you did, everything you said, every kiss, every caress, everything you wrote, including this:
“You are one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. You’ve meant so much so deep to me and I just can’t let it go this way.
Loving you, connecting with you deeply via life and poetry, fantasy and caress, was like a new skin. I wear it, but it’s yours.
You have inspired me, informed me, danced me. Your beauty is a trauma to quotidian. I relish your attack on life. I’m in awe of it.
My heart sang to you and you heard and your response, to me personally and in your writing, in our talks and in our shredded breathing,
There’s an electricity of positivity that charges me still.”
and in answer to a letter I wrote you, you said:
“Of course that means ongoing, and how that works with collaborating, mutual performances, seeing each other etc etc —it’s all there, we just don’t know what yet, and that’s the beauty you have given us in this letter. The truth of it.
It means so much
It means everything”
I am naive enough, trusting enough to believe you –have you really never been loved like this? The love is still yours for as long as I feel it. Please treat it with respect.
You asked me to respect something, and I do. But, Sir, you also have to respect me.
On 3 Auguset 2016, you told me that you love me. Has the cat got your tongue now? Specifically, you said this:
“Thylias, It is Love & that is all, it is kin and Life itself.
Sending you strength
To which I said this:
You know that I accept this. I like hearing that it is Love.
I’m just afraid that it might not be love tomorrow.
I love knowing that it is Love, I need that more than anything…
As long as it will continue to be love, I am fine.
No one can say how long it will continue to be love on this Wildest of Rides, but I am glad to take this ride with you.
For more of this fascinating love story, read “New Kiss Horizon” by Thylias Moss. Wannt to know what I say to him? Read the book. I say it all.
NEW KISS HORIZON LINKS:
Link to “New Kiss Horizon” on Smashwords:
Link to “New Kiss Horizon” paperback on Amazon:
Link to “New Kiss Horizon” Kindle book on Amazon:
Link to Thylias Moss Amazon writer page:
Vashtis Blog (narrator of NKH, maintaining a blog so that readers may keep in touch with developments in the character’s life beyond the book:
Vashti’s blog URL:
“India’s Daughter” (film by Leslee Udwin) as shocking as it may be to some, is true.
you may watch it here:
I am sorry that this is also our world.
Good Sunday morning!
For a change, I do not plan to write about the shambles of my love life; will not be fixed today anyway, and I can’t say when, but it will be and is.
Not much has changed; I am still in love with a wonderful sman; I like everything about him way too much, no one can be as good as he is, but he will have to deal with the man in the mirror.
but too much is beautful for me to disrupt or destroy that beauty. That it attained a pinnacle of loving expression will always be true. Nothing can ever change that.
I have embarked upon, for 2 writing projects quite dear to me, Amazon’s CreateSpace, a self-publishing tool that will allow books made with it to instantly be sold wherever Amazon has a footprint, and where doesn’t that corporate giant tread?
The first project is a group of collaborative poems written with a friend, (that much I’m sure of); a friend of mine, a lover also, the very best, you will have to take my word on that (or read the book I had to write after beign with him with him! Thoroughly Transforming!
Thomas Robert Higginson (a pseudonymn) , right beside me here, and may it always be this way.
That collection is finished; just waiting for the sample of the book to arrive, and if I like it, then into production; already has its ISBN number, so this book is real, and I am delighted by that.
Unfortunately, the sample isn’t due to arrive at my Ypsilanti house until the day before my mother’s 87th birthday. If I do not, as I would like, get to go there, I have already planned to call her and sing to her; she always likes that –mothers you know.
I am so eager to see that little chapbook, that contains two poems from “Wannabe“, with permission from the publisher (who I would prefer not to name), but… Yeah, and my so-called comprehensive book with a blurb from Harold Bloom in the most prominent position possible on the jacket, extolling my stature as a writer of significance, except that he is referring to a New & Selected not even in “Wannabe” –I am in Harold Bloom’s “Western Canon” for “Small Congregations” –the only collection of my previously published collections of poetry not included in “Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code” –well, mistakes happen, I know quite well.
But some mistakes make possible wonders that could not be possible any other way, and for that reason, I am glad for what looking back could be seen as mistakes but I am not looking at mistakes today; I am looking at only opportunities which is what CreateSpace is.
So while I wait for the collection of poems written with my friend Thomas Robert Higginson (I may need to do a drawing of him; I assure you I can, all just from memory–what a great idea; I have never attempted a simple pencil sketch of him… Wonder how the pencil will feel in my hands drawing the man I so want to be with? –a Thomas Robert Higginson comic book? graphic novel “graphic” as defined in multiple ways –I leap too far ahead; I haven’t even drawn the man, and the idea is forming even as I type this, but obviously the idea really appeals to me… But to have him form right on the paper in graphite from what will become my favorite pencil after I draw him? and even the two of us together, using illustrations from, I don’t know, the Kama Sutra, as a guide, not that I’ll need one. Too much heaven! –and I am a little bit skeptical about him possibly seeing this; after all, we are “just” friends, and I shouldn’t permit myself to think this way about a friend, should I?
Leap, leap, leap (into his arms –I can’t help it)
and wouldn’t you know, the Angel of the Lord returned to visit my mother who just called to warn me to make no decisions at this time; to tell me she was afraid, the spirit told her this, that now is not the time to try to sell a home because the republicans are about to seize power, although she detests Trump, yet doesn’t feel Hillary to be any better because she is a woman; she said for me to follow God, and pray for what I really want, and I did, but it’s not what she thinks it is. (I prayed to have him, of course).
My mother has no idea how involved I’ve become with a certain man, and when I tried to tell her about him, just his name; he had wanted her to be in a movie about poetry he produced long ago, but she wouldn’t, preferring that no one know she worked as a maid; she has no idea how often I have included that info in my writing, and more recently her puritanical views about sex. She would be shocked to ever know what I’ve done, and enjoyed with That Most Delightful Man. She told me then that the only man I need is “Jesus”, so when I first wrote about being with him in Chicago, I called him:
“Jésus” and that way, if she ever saw it, I was in fact talking about
(read most of that story here: “Mongongo Drupe“<https://muse.jhu.edu/article/576194/pdf>
in fact, before I ever went to see him for that unforgettable weekend in Chicago, it was well before these recent events, so I guess that was for the best, as I would be unable to explain what has happened to her, and it is most definitely my life, not hers.
“Mongongo” the name of the only oil I put on my hair, and it seems to be working.
Oh I well remember my son driving me to her house in Cleveland in the pouring rain, rather as it is right now in Ypsilanti, and exchanging texts with that Most Delightful man; how wonderful that was; you don’t realize how wonderful every moment has been…. That Callaloo story only gnaws at a most wonderful surface, and even that hardly accesses what is so amazing and terrific about being with you/him…
Here’s part of that email exchange:
By the way, my ex is not being supportive at all of my trip to see you — though I really want to attend, that Teresa Nyong Vogel reunion is a veil, removable veil to see you. He remarked to me that I must really want to see you considering all that I’m doing –inviting you and everything, sharing a hotel room –dressing for you, trying to guess what you’d like to see me wear, but imagining even more how you’ll remove it, and look at me, then touch me –my son isn’t helping with the R&B music he’s playing
–Jaheim– and that music plus what I’m already thinking is dangerous… Now Luther Vandross –“Never Too Much” –“a thousand kisses from you is never too much, a million days in your arms is never too much”
Luther Vandross – “Never Too Much”
to which he replied:
“I worry about your safety and I chortle at yr wildness and I ripsnort with passion and I flagellate with absorption and I tentacleize with tendresse as I undress the emptiness”
I would never want to divest myself of the memories of That Delightful Man for that would be to try to purge my mind of the best memories my heart has ever known, as an adult.
He asked for the dress I wore in his movie he didn’t just ask for it, but described it completely! How impressive that is, and I am not going to throw this away… maybe he has revealed himself to be an ordinary man, but that is just fine, I like him, no I love him anyway.
This is not the first time a woman has loved a man who still thinks so fondly of her, and even still loves her in his way… But asking for the dress, really shows me the depth of the impression I made on him when I was in the movie about poetry for which he was one of the producers and asked me to be in it; make no mistake about that!
The parts in the movie in which I wore the blue striped dress:
I’m in the back holding Ansted, Dennis is in the front, my aunt Eva who never married, and is mother of midget Mike, and who passed for white (she had some amazing stories until her death); JoJo Holman is right behind her. The two girls are Bernard’s daughters. Bernard is a huge lover of jazz and Godzilla. My cousin Edward (who lives in Chicago, but whom I won’t see while I’m there with you —as I mentioned, he’s only been to the airport once, and wouldn’t be able to find his way home; he lives on the south side of Chicago) is sitting to the left of Bernard’s daughter who also has MS –her grandmother, Belvia Brasier Hill, as I mentioned, died from a combination of MS and Huntington’s. JoJo who lives in Tennessee is quite ill, and not expected to live much longer. Haven’t seen him since this photo was taken. We’re quite a small family with a terrible amount of distancing.
You asked, so let me tell you a little of how it was for me, flat-chested till I was in ninth grade –my mother and her sisters used to pray for me that I not remain so skinny and flat-chested. Then the miracle; overnight. I was about 14, nearly 15 –went from a girl who didn’t need a bra (but wanted to wear a training bra anyway) to a 32D, the second most rare size, I was told by the Playtex salesman visiting the downtown May Co. Department store where I would work a few years later.
You can imagine the unwanted attention I attracted.
I was just a shy little girl, shy little top heavy girl, more like the women on the maternal side of my family; and thin, raw-boned more like members of my paternal extended family. Those prayer sessions were rather intense. And my aunts were (most of them are now deceased) pleased with the outcome. Then, the most rare size a lingerie buyer told me: 32 DDDD. Now, a mere 30 DDD or 32 DD depending on manufacturer… I recall when I had the MRI on Friday being asked what kind of implants were in my body and I tried to say that I had no breast implants –the expectation now, and I seem unusual about that, natural, that is… So many operations for augmentation, and I once considered reduction. Used to keep my arms crossed for a while, and even wore minimizer bras; used to try to hide, but my ex really liked that about me, and actually I did too, and when I was nearly seventeen was glad to be pushed up.
“Weather is a factor, and those anticipated storms have arrived —love how the sky looks, it and the pond have merged. Love the tapping on the roof, like fingertips, becoming angry at times, and then gentle, now scarcely making contact at all, but in roof-ways, the roof remembers the rain as a splintered lover that talks in thunder, and every now and then, illuminates their way with marvelous flashes of lightning, knife blades, marvelous knife blades….”
To which That Man regaining his sweetness as I remember so much, replied:
Dear Bullet Dodger —
Looks like you is stable eyesed!!!
Great photos of ver sexy you.
and the family — who took the picture? What stories!!!!
These photos were taken at my mother’s house, the home my father bought in 1963. Badly in need of paint, something my mother will try to do herself.
We have such a long and complicated story; we have history, and that is just too much to ever give up. I can’t bear the thought of you not in my life… I want to get past this, and reinstate you as the wonderful, tender, caring man you always were, the man to whom I wrote this:
You but can’t keep up with you, your tapdancing
Shadow, your clothing made of earth and spit. But I know you
And when you wish me Happy Birthday I trade it for yours,
You not growing old, you everlasting, you infinity you.”
What a moving and lovely letter, what a heart you got, a wondrous one, one that I know and got to know better, and better, and loved in the way we loved. A mind that evolved those feelings into literature, into a story for the ages.
And that art means so much to me — and this letter, just as much, meant just for me, explaining me back to me from your perspective, and through your lens. Our friendship has moved so many places the world cannot contain them all, and still goes on, growing every whichway.
So thank you infinitely for this gift of all possibility and the settling of the words’ world into a mutually respectful and fulfilling friendship. Of course that means ongoing, and how that works with collaborating, mutual performances, seeing each other etcetc — it’s all there, we just don’t know what yet, and that’s the beauty you have given us in this letter. The truth of it.
It means so much
It means everything
You also said this to me, Lord knows you always know what to say:
“making poems is making life”
and you said this to me:
“I have all yr books, I think, Mz Moss. I do love A Man (if she’s A Woman)”
and you wrote this to me, so much more than this,
Sitting by a calming fountain in Kiev, just after the bells of St Sofia rocked the plaza — real rocks of noise
I can say a few things: how crazy are you? am I? we?
Pretty crazy, I’d say!
BUT certainly it is a continuously reviving poem
A fantasy dream and reality scream
You are a Go For It All woman finally free
You constantly inspire, and I wish to too
Standing off to the side and cheering you on
Hey! Watch out for that banana!
The Mnemonic of Yr Palindrome
—- and when you woke this to me, Mr. Delightful,
Instead of smiling at you
Smiling at you”
to which I replied:
Isn’t smiling at me a form of work?
to which your reply was
And how everything started with this:
“Hey, this won’t be a business call!
I’d be calling to reestablish contact, Ms Moss, that is all.”
Surely you will recall that one stumbling block in the way of our love taking off; you called him “PSOG” (Previous Suitor Other Guy” although he had a name. When you first contacted me after waiting 25 years, you had to wait an additional two weeks, because of PSOG, and when I contacted you two weeks later, just two weeks later, to tell you that PSOG was completely gone from my life (what I want you to say now about a certain nameless GF, you know what I mean); well to convince you that PSOG was gone, I sent him and BCC’d you on the breakup email of break up emails, this one:
Break up email of break up emails:
This isn’t as difficult as it may seem,
but under the circumstances, I think it’s best to not be involved on even a minimal level. I appreciate — I really do— your continued concern, but I must try to achieve whatever I can on my own (or via members of family). I appreciate your fondness and will remember it. I agree that intimacy is not for us. Never was. I can’t say that it will be with my new old-friend, but as I once told you, worth pursuing. I like how for many years he’s cared for me —on any level. Sorry, but I can’t do a blog or even go for walks, even if that leaves me out of shape. I won’t forget my medicine, and I’ll find a way to get to that dreaded MRI on Sunday. I’ll get there somehow, of that have no doubt —even my ex has agreed to take me —I just don’t think it should be you.
You’re free to write responses to my writing —as any reader would be; I maintain a partnership in that sense with all of my readers (who are also forms of “collaborators”), most of whom never connect with me directly. And yes; you may send your responses to me, and I’ll answer them as timely as I can, but won’t be preoccupied with responding (it’s not as if I have nothing else to do). As long as such contact doesn’t suggest a sustained relationship with a possibility of growing into something else. I don’t want such growth, and such growth didn’t happen naturally.. Send me anything you like via email. Nothing wrong with that. I just won’t go anywhere with you. I can’t —would seem that I have no self-respect, and I do. I guess I can blame all of this on match dot com, a service I no longer use, and won’t use again… If I hadn’t used it, wouldn’t have to write this message. I’m quite disappointed with the service.
It’s fine with me that we don’t attempt to pursue any romance ever—some things are just present, and no need to force what obviously isn’t there to kindle. There is no fire to burn or extinguish. No fire at all. No attraction (other than my own —temporary— delusion).
I’ll also be able to get to he airport; my ex has agreed to take me if necessary. He’s also agreed to pick me up when I return to Detroit if necessary. He has accepted that there won’t be any romance between us ever again –and he’s accepted that; he and I will be talking tomorrow, and he’s taking me to lunch, and will pay for all of it! —his and mine; he won’t ask me or demand that I pay for half! (as you did). —Nor is there any romance between us, you and I, and I’m opposed to doing anything that might seem to open that door. I’m closing that door for good- -something I thought I already did. More than once. We can’t be involved in that way for many, many reasons. We’re so wrong for each other —in just about any way that I can imagine or construct a couple. There’s nothing right between us —and I can’t make it seem that way… I’m through pretending that we had something we didn’t. I did that for too long, and I’m not going to dredge up past incidents —want to leave everything buried, and bury anything that remains above ground —all must be subterranean —coffin nailed shut. Sprigs of garlic around, and a set of silver nails, wooden stakes
I’m trying to make this clear again: NO US! —NOT EVER! —even if things fail abysmally with my new old-friend, I won’t be seeking to resume anything like that between us. Just a casual friendship at best, right now (that includes Facebook). Whatever we almost or sort of had, is dead and buried, and I don’t rob graves to have some form of man in my life. I don’t feel desperate. Just divorced and available —for the right man, and that will never be you. He must ask have something to offer to me, intimacy of course, and you have none of that for me… Intellectual and emotional closeness; bonds of heart and mind —we’ll be able to connect on multiple levels —and we can’t, pure and simple.
Haven’t tried building my own Frankenstein’s monster, and I don’t want to form closeness with a monster anyway. No zombie for me either; I want a flesh and blood man who is confident of himself and seems to value me as something special —we’ll be special for each other —that can’t be you. I want the man ultimately in my life to value me as much as I value him —nothing forced; completely natural, and its not natural for you to be involved with a woman on this level, a woman like me, I mean. I’m well aware how that Teresa Nyong Vogel Prize was something you could use to a form of advantage, especially at Cottage Inn —but not to my advantage, only to yours…
We are no more! and I’m completely okay with that. I’m shedding no tears. Just moving forward, without you
—all I have holding me back is that MS-related optic neuritis (simulating blindness in my left eye) and my loss of directional skills (aneurysm related) —I can get lost so easily; remember all the trouble I had when we walked and I had trouble knowing which way to go? This is a problem I have. Perhaps it’s permanent. I hope that the man who becomes the man in my life won’t mind, that it won’t be an encumbrance for him; we’ll find ways to navigate around this glitch, I’ll call it —just who I’ve become physiologically —we all change with age, by the way, something that I know you know, and won’t mention again (would require a little grave-robbing, your impotence that you tried to blame on me, grave-robbing, so I guess I do leave on a vindictive note, but I am sure you know your own impotence that you tried to blame it on me). Causing my friend to allow me to see him nude from the waist down, asking only that I take no photos; i didn’t but kind of wish I had, as I had never seen anythingn so huge and entirely tempting that would very soon —if I could accommodate all of him–be inside me
It wasn’t just the porn vignette. Many things…. There is no path to romance for you to me. Not ever. And I don’t want a path from me to you. Not ever.
My mother commented last night that I have no need to tell anyone even that I have MS, since my disease is so invisible, and she’s particularly upset with you as it looks as if I was a prize that you couldn’t recognize for what it is. Obviously you weren’t ready to pursue a relationship with me or perhaps with any woman (you did tell me about your involvement —brief— you said, liaison with another man) —but that may be too accusatory to say. I’m not writing to solicit a response, just to finish closing a door, that I thought was closed anyway, and maybe would still be had I not mistakenly invited you as a possibility for getting me to and from the airport —Sorry for the invitation. I’m withdrawing it now, and will be sure not to invite you further to anything.
Just to make this as clear as possible:
No us. Not now. Not ever. No matter what happens.
and after this you were fine , and we could begin… one of my favorite parts was when PSOG tried to blame his impotence on me, and also said he refused to use condoms, and you told me that you would drive an 18-wheeler full of condoms down my street, and talking on FaceTime, you showed me and told me that if I could see you right then, and I could, everything, I would know that impotence around me was hardly your problem. And it certainly wasn’t. Not then, and definitely not in person. I must confess, that I really liked seeing this. Really gave me something tangible to dream about.
But in the hotel I was offered an upgrade on the room, a single king bed instead of the 2 queen beds reserved, and you answered, so, so eagerly, your arm tightly and tightening even more around me; you were determined never to let me go, now that I was yours. “we’ll take the single king” and we did, Room 304 –I will never forget that.
Oh well: Delight after Delight Mr. Delightful
Don’t you remember this?
Soon after that, you sent me this:
I can’t wait
To taste your kiss
Kiss kissing kisses
Slow you lead your
Beautiful tender lips
Just to rest there
So quiveringly touching
The moment itself
Don’t you want to remember this?
Aren’t you glad that I do? Aren’t you?
Oh Mr. D, I hope you also remember writing this to me:
Don’t be nervous, except a little, in a good way! and don’t worry about Sat — you can play by ear, and you should enjoy the Geniuses as much as you can. We’ll have plenty of time — and will probably be wanting a bit of rest… !!!
3,766. I am looking forward to reading your letter and viewing the attachments
The absolutely delightful man who also said this: ” You have always inspired me, Forkergurl”
–and of course, Mr. Delightful has always inspired me…
You know that I accept this. I like hearing that it is Love.
I’m just afraid that it might not be love tomorrow.
I love knowing that it is Love, I need that more than anything…
As long as it will continue to be love, I am fine.
No one can say how long it will continue to be love on this Wildest of Rides, but I am glad to take this ride with you.
Even more recently, in September, last month, he said, “Relax –it takes time”
after I sent him a text in which I told him how I really want to see him, and how I really hope he likes my selfies.
“Relax – it takes time” he said
and “why so choosy picky? They are all great as usual”
to which I said, “All great as usual? Nice of you to say that before you’ve been see them, I guess you do notice me and I am glad. Very glad actually.”
I have always worried that he likes how I look; I have always wanted to appeal to him physically. You see for he 44 years I was with my ex, beginning when I was 16, he never, not once, called me pretty or beautiful of anything like that. He said my head would swell, and over the years, I thought of myself as unattractive, not to mention when a grade school teacher said when I returned to visit her when I was in ninth grade, “Thylias! –you’re beautiful! you were such an ugly child!” I was. I know that.
I’ve seen this man in Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit., and he made it a point to always call me beautiful or pretty; he had no idea how badly I needed to hear this until I told him what I never heard. And then he said it all the time, and I learned to think myself pretty, and now I have a problem with vanity… Anyway, one day Mr. Delightful sent me a text,
“Thylias, you are one gorgeous woman”
I have loved having dinner with him so much. I had my first real dates with this man.
I learned how to kiss with this man, and he can really kiss. I was touched in ways I’d never been touched before, with his fingers, tongue and, well, not an x-rated blog. but you get the idea.
In Minneapolis, when we were about to go to dinner, he said he’d come to my hotel room at 5:30 pm, and asked “U r ready for dinner?”
to which I replied, “Sure. Don’t look my best, however.”
to which he replied, “LOL”
and I had another wonderful meal with him. Sommetimes, I forget all about context. My sense of time gets out of whack. And then I accuse him of things he did not do. This doesn’t mean that he handled this current “situation” properly, because he didn’t. But when everything is added up, the list of pluses is substantially longer, and besides, what human being does not deserve forgiveness? He needs forgiveness; we all do, and this way, I get to have some peace, and continue the best friendship I have ever had in my life.
There has been enough hurt, and if he is able to love anyone, that is a good thing.
May we all be so lucky as to find someone to love.
I am very excited about my forthcoming –just days now, volume of new and selected poetry! “Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code“! (from Persea Books!)
I haven’t had a new book since 2006, and Tokyo Butter!
The cover image is really a 50X USB microscpe scan I made of flowers from Hilda’s Funneral in 2002. I grew up with Hilda as if she were my sister… A terrible loss for me…
I wonder what she would be like now? She was only 3 months older than me, born 25 November 1953; I was born 27 February 1954. “Tokyo Butter” explores some of that… I couldn’t believe that all of Hilda (“Deirdre” in the book) was gone from the world, and “Tokyo Butter” is the outcome of my (as yet incomplete) search for her.
Here is a version of a video piece I made about a poem in “Tokyo Butter“: The Cultue of Snowmen”:
I really want the Proscope mobile! Oh what I would capture!
Images I captured with my Proscope Digital microscope:
Hope you’ve already put in your orders at Amazon for “Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code“!
Video poam I made, the source of the title of this book soon to be available:
Also, please check out my Amazon Author Page!!
You can hear me reading three of my favorite poems from”Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code” for Poets and Writers Here:
The three poems I read:
- Blue Coming
- The Glory Prelude
- Me and Bubble Went to Memphis
Also here “Me and Bubble Went to Memphis” here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/audio/detail/76019
The Glory Prelude video poam here (music composed and performed by Graphic Artist Ansted Moss, Vocals by Thylias Moss who also made the vide poam; contains footage of my mother who has recently been visited by “The Angel of the Lord” –whatever that means. I cannot compete with “The Angel of the Lord” –noone can):
(my mother is unaware that this footage was captured)
Please don’t tell her, unless you are “The Angel of the Lord”.
she already told me that she’s coming to get me… –I am going to be haunted after her death, so if I make no further posts, you will know that:
- I am dead
- My mother got me.
- My mother succeeded at what Houdini couldn’t
- A mother’s love
How mama looks now, as she waits for The Angel of the Lord (to come back in ways my deceased father can’t):
(She loves Popeye’s chicken, but isn’t supposed to eat it. Diabetes, Hypertension, Glaucoma, Thyroid problems, loss of the ability to grasp physical objects (with her right hand especially) and to remember anything, Dementia; loss of hearing, loss of eyesight, unless looking at and/or listening to: “The Angel of the Lord”, but she’s coming back to get me, a promise she has made to the “Angel of the Lord” –I take this most seriously, because she saw “The Angel of the Lord” as real as anything she has ever seen..
“The Glory Prelude to a Widow Shrine System” is for her, the widow since the death of my father in July 1980. She says “the only man I need is Jesus”, so I called a man I liked a lot, before I loved him as I do now, “Jésus”. My mama with dementia, (I love her, but she still doesn’t know. Just wanted to tell her that I had found a good man; I thought that maybe she would like that. But no.
I’ve been divorced since 2013, but makes no difference… Even if nothing goes any furher, I just wanted her to know that I had found someone much better, who doesn’t lie to me, a man I can trust to tell me the truth, whether or not I like it. He will not deceive me, the most trustworthy man I know.
and “Hypnosis at the Bird Factory ” (also in “Wannabe”) as a video poam right here:
and Tornado Pi, video poem version of the print poem “Tornados“ also in “Wannabe“:
Print version of “The Glory Prelude” in The Offing here:
BUY THE BOOK!
READ THE BOOK!
A significant new poem from this collection is: “Higginson Matters in Magnificent Culture of Myopia” and I perform this signture poem from this collection here
(the unnatural emphasis on the word “moss” comes from a niece of my ex, telling me that I could hardly be moving on with my life, since I still had their name, a name they did not copyright, a name they did not intiate; there are many other “Mosses”; they have no valid claim to the exclusivity of that name:
Speaking of things “trustworthy”, I was all set to believe that an unfortunae sitution with my publisher was greatly improved; I’m still all set for that, but I was disappointed when I saw on the publisher’s website for my book; a quote about me, this mixed-race woman who would never choose a partner based on his color, or a partner who would choose a woman based on her color; I would not exist without mixing…
and although the quote which offends me now and all that I’ve tried to accomplish in my writing is gone from the book jacket, I still name, on the website, “the black truths behind white lies” and am still a writer “who speaks bitterness”… I was disappoined to see that, because of the inaccuracy, and immediaetely wote an email to my poetry editor
That is not who I am; I speak TRUTH, no matter what color it is. And if “black” (a part of me but not all of me) is so powerful that whatever is “black” at all, even a tiny potent, powerful drop; if so powerful that I can not avoid using a black lens to interpret everything, then everything I see automatically becomes “black” because I see it, and everything I say automatically become “black” because I say it, and everything I hear automatically becomes “black” because I hear it, and everything I do, automatically becomes “black” because I do it, and everything I touch automatically becomes “black” because I “touch” it, and everything I feel automatically becomes “black,”because I feel it, and everthing I eat automatically becomes “black” because I eat it,
then there is no need for me to preface anything I think; anything I feel, anything I do with “black” since I cannot do anything that is not black, so when I think of quantum phyiscs, quantum physics becomes black; every form of math, everything I’ve written here is black; that’s how potent black is, one drop and black heaven is the reward!
I continue to think these black thoughts, as I thought them at the University of new Hampshire where in a class for those teaching English composition, the subject was “How To Eliminate Vagueness” in student wiring, and one TA observed that when a sudent writes the word, “black”, the student likely means something else, such as, and this was agreed upon (worth noting that I was the ony visibly “black” person in the room); agreed upon that the student meant “irreversible damage” , so I wrote this poem, for instructors of English 401 at the University of New Hampshire, originally published in Callaloo, then in my book, Pyramid of Bone, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award:
about Pyramid of bone, Langdon Hammer says this:
Although many of Moss’s poems discuss race and gender, these subjects are, explains scholar Langdon Hammer, simply “starting points for her work…her poetry makes such facts of identity seem unfamiliar, their meanings not to be predicted, unavailable to the naked eye.” Known for startling metaphors and vivid imagery, Moss’s work demonstrates an expansive imagination that seeks to connect at times wildly disparate subjects”
“To Eliminate Vagueness”
instructions: substitute irreversible damage for black wherever it occurs
In the red-legged locust’s black raids upon midwest soybeans,
in their illicit transmission of tapeworms and parasites
to quail, turkeys, and guinea fowl,
in all the black calendar days that are supposed
to indicate the ordinary.
In operating rooms body parts black with gangrene
are excised and trash cans seem to fill with dead crows.
There’s a black crust two miles thick in Soweto, some on bread,
around eyes, most on the streets where blood dried
into its own monument.
Then my mother’s black face nothing can soften, the sweating,
the forgetting to sleep, the solidarity with anyone troubling,
the compassion only I knew she felt hugging a radio, singing
spirituals, sequestering herself in her widow’s bedroom
praying for women unable to pray.
And what of Europeans, what of Asians and Latinos who are
damaged, whose gangrened minds should be excised but who are
One day I noticed my mother had poured her face onto mine
and had given me spirituals and lullabies.
I sang them when baskets of black clouds dumped
their transparent flowers over the convent
and the nuns’ basic black didn’t get wet
and they carted the flowers home in wheelbarrows
and arranged them like lullabies
and wept silently
as we were weeping, mother and daughter together
in my father’s old rocker, the damage already done.
for Gary and the English 401 staff
and listen to me read, on the Poetry Foundation site: “The Pampering of Leora”
and this video poam (product of act[s] of making) I made”Cosmic Seduction” is just another black thing I do:
Please enjoy as much of this truth as you can. I thank you and am grateful, always.
Included for someone special
all for him
His if he wants it, the most trustworthy, most deserving man I know.
Today would be my Father, 93rd birthday.
100% Daddy’s girl right here.
I remember my father who never met my son, as he died in 1980, and my son wasn’t born until 1991, but I recall an exceptional man, who was never hit as a child, and taught me so much; including, I feel, groundwork of limited fork, the way he treated me, and refused to express love through any bullying techniques such as found in so many Christian patriarchal religions; my father never made differences in toys according to gender… I was also encouraged to speak, to both have and share my opinions. He died 36 years ago, the year before I graduated from Oberlin College, something he would have loved to experience, me graduating from an institution not afraid to enroll women, African-Americans, and Native Americans, and that’s really why I wanted my degree to be from Oberlin, a college that would have accepted me regardless.
He never knew the me I became, but he did know me as a writer, something I started to do when I was seven… He was right there when so much happened….
He asked my mother not to hit me, and she wanted to, according to biblical rules, that if the rod is spared, then the child is spoiled… My father wouldn’t allow me to believe anything like that! He told me that no decent, no authentic father would even conceive of a place called hell, and even if he somehow conceived it, he would never send anyone there… This made more sense to me than biblical rules with such adherence to patriarchal stances, written by men, and subjugating women –I wish my father had lived to hear me say such things, to watch me practice such things, to see me champion these things he always felt were just!
If such punishment is a shared experience that unifies blacks, then I guess that I am not black at all since spankings and beatings were not part of my life. I understand intellectually, what spankings are; my mother’s sister who lived with us for many years, would often send her son, my cousin Lawrence:
out to get his own switch. I observed this, but never took part; I was never sent to select my own instrument of brutality.
I drove my father to the hospital on the day he died…. He chain-smoked Pall Malls (there used to be commercaisl, such as):
and eventually, he was quite ill the last couple of years of his life, and I’d driven him to the hospital quite a few times to have fluid removed from his lungs, but he always managed to come home alive… except, of course, the last time…. I’ve felt guilty about that for many, many years… but am so thankful that he created my name for me, “Thylias” –he told me when I was seven that there had never been a presence like mine in the world, so I needed a name that also hadn’t been part of the world –just what a daughter, what any child, what any person should be told! –I would go to church with my mother, and be told that I was going to hell; but as soon as I got home from church, my father, born in the south would take me for very long walks, sometimes for several miles, and allow me to linger and interact with whatever I wanted to, and I returned home from these walks with a new golden book of knowledge and built an alternative bible, these books were also ‘truth“: Energy and Power, Automobiles, Geology, Meteorology, Mathematics, etc… For toys, I had dolls, and I loved them, but I also had space ships, boats, trucks, and my home was filled with music… (Sometimes, my father sang)
My father didn’t have my name picked out for me; he had to meet me first, and then decided, after he met me, what my name should be, a name tailored to the person he saw. Was it the way I reminded him of something? Could he already see some of himself in me? Did he realize then what was always true, that I was more like him than like my mother?
In one of her increasingly rare lucid moments, my mother told me that I am high class and she is low class, and for that reason she and I are unable to communicate. We are too different. My hair came from my father and his people. I am told that my mother, so ashamed of her color, called “the little black one” and ostracized by her family, wanted to lighten up the family, and that my father was considered a catch with his pale skin and mostly straight dark hair; I got the hair, but not the color.
Among other things, on those walks I so frequently take, walking to love and to a man I hope will be in my life for many, many years (this man I love [maybe too much, but maybe not nearly enough –he is that special, and somehow proving just how special he really is, as each moment passes]), but this man is also a drinker, and I sometimes imagine how the two of them, about the same color, could sit at my mother’s dining room table and drink together –sure wish that they could someday meet, but as I walk now, I am also reviving what I did with my father from the time I could walk, those walks with him…. He and I would walk to the bakery and purchase freshly baked loaves of “Wonder” bread. How I loved that name for the promise of “Wonders”, the promises of miracles. We once walked to a bridge and stood there and watched a refinery fire, and the smell of that fire blocked the heavenly aromas of “Wonder” bread baking; I would imagine that Jesus had loaves of “Wonder” bread to go with the fish he served in the feeding of the five thousand.
My father would have loved me at Oberlin! –this tiny woman, under five feet tall, multiracial, grauating first in the class and Phi Beta Kappa; still oly 98 pounds, with completely natural waist-length buttkissing hair, and as naturally shapely as all-get-out, I cannot show you, but —I do not lie— if you ever see this 62-year-old woman in a bikini (no need for liposuction or for any surgical reshaping, certainly not of my face, or anywhere else; no breast impants, I don’t need them; no weave, no wig, no extensions –not only booty, beautifully shaped, but also enough brains to graduate first in the class –there are not that many total packages like me; and I have the legacy that makes all of me inevitable:
nothing is going to dilute or diminsh my joy this mornin’!
some of the wonders of Oberlin College:
And now some photos of this wonderful man, a father I knew until I was 26, a man my son never knew, being born so many years after my father’s death, a man who also did not hit in order to express love… A man unafraid to marry outside his race in the south! –how did this family manage that? –I am so pleased to have as my heritage such bravery, such decisions to insist on a form of justice, and compassion for all! –to insist on love –my real heritage: I will always insist on love. No matter what.
Love first; all else is secondary.
My paternal grandfather, a man I never know, was not black at all, Native American, Caucasian, and Indian. Apparently, many of them perished from Huntington’s Disease, a most nasty and always fatal, requiring inheritance of only one gene (no successful gene modification of that, as there was in the film Jurassic World), but I’ve been quite lucky, and missed that fatal inheritance from this wonderful man, my father part Native American, African American, Indian, and Caucasian in the south when races, as humans classify them, were not supposed to mix yet always, (let’s be reasonable), did. Real love could hardly care about color, or I would not even exist.
Here’s to my father who did not care about such petty things as color of skin.
And here’s to more rising of mixed race people!
Something Claudia Rankine explores in her “Whiteness, INC” that was part of the Ellipsis show at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, MO, as in:
(Please look, please love, and please think)
I’ve got love on my mind!
and “Unforgettable” –always: