A post made by Richard Payne on Facebook about Smoky Robinson. And it is still poetry, everything is.
helped me recall an essay I wrote “The Etraordinaty Hoof”
and I would like to share it with you: It deals with the one-drop rule among other things:
by Thylias Moss
There are certain marvelous coincidences, for instance, that my ordinarily inconsequential toes, inconsequential not to bipedalism, but to what is momentarily more essential to me, endeavors that take place especially and no place but in the mind
where I’ve just become aware of being an admirer of hooves, less the cloven than the full, particularly as reflective objects,
giving something like depth to an image of dust kicked up, say, by a twenty-mule team hauling borax; particles sent swirling in
the deep reaches of an infinite illusion by the courtesy of the surface of the horny covering that protects the whole foot as
opposed to toenails’s less substantial responsibility for separate digits. On some days, this movement of dust suffices as frenzy,
model of passionate intellectual engagement. Dust rising like a praise of gnats, active veil of one of the hats I don’t get to wear
How much further would this digression have to extend– surely not to infinity– before it would arrive at necessity or, better, at
revelation so that detour result in an essential yet, ever the hope, astonishing poem? Especially a detour from self, as impossible
as that is, that usually gets in my way, at the very least informing just what it is that I notice; were I someone else, at last I could
notice something else–though I hope still the hoof. There are theories that could explain both my admiration of the hoof and my
having suppressed that admiration until the occasion to write this essay arose, and were I someone else or somewhere else,
hoof would have its proxy or perhaps there’d be no digression at all, but instead a more conventional road and a more reliable
vehicle to traverse it, but as just a poet finding imagination ever so trustworthy, I needn’t doubt the gift of hoof.
I prefer that unanticipated discovery lead me to and through a poem; for me there is some rapture if the dance of dust mirrored
in the hoof of some unspecified beast offers delight and insight that perhaps I would miss were I regularly more interested in
imposing certain agendas on my poems; if right now, as I am about to do, I paused to consider just how dust and hoof must
change according to my poorly understood and often unimportant identity.
My sense of my identity has formed, and remains subject to change, over a mere forty-four years, yet parts of it are considered
certain although, as a rule, I don’t like rules, and as another, I most often reject certainty for being so sure and through,
apparently, with questions which are all that I have and are what I most enjoy because questions, better than anything else,
promise chances at discovery. I question hoof, but do not doubt it. And so, yes, literary criticism, multiculturalism, for instance,
as forms of questioning; doctrines that reject certainty. That which is apparently stable in my identity has ceased, for me, to be
intrinsically revealing. I am simply not astonished anymore by my racial heritage[s] alone, my sex alone. Only when something
occurs to restore astonishment through fresh rankling of my awareness. Although I do confess to remaining consistently
impressed with sex with Thomas Robert Higginson for its unceasing accessing of a more, my fascination with my social roles has paled except
for when contemplation of them leads me to something that seems, whether or not it really is, extraordinary. Only what seems
extraordinary compels me to write. The extraordinary hoof.
attempt, always, to say more than I am black, a woman struggling because of being black, a woman; for most of my personal
struggle was born elsewhere, and my current struggle, elsewhere still, and I hold no patent on struggling-nor is mine, so lucky,
grievous or disabling struggle; instead, it is source of my energy and will. I suppose that I will never know to what extent, if any,
my poems depend on my identity for their meaning, but the impossibility of such knowing forces me into no quandary; I do not
sweat the analysis of my writing–I, such a brazen little thing, just try to write without restriction. The judgments are judgments,
and nothing more; contrived-as fallible as I am.
The substance of my identity need not be relevant unless it is the subject, and it should not be presumed to be my only subject–not until racial, for instance, differences are of a significance that commands the prefacing of every attempt at thought with homage to race. Then my perception necessarily would be restricted, but as a territorial and, proudly she says, stubborn being I would nevertheless attempt to extend my territory to whatever in the universe interests me. Today, the hoof. Tomorrow, the circumference of belief. Only an unreasonable logic would have my work be a study of race, for instance, primarily or
exclusively. Such simplicity, despite simplicity’s general attractiveness, does not even tempt me.
I do not always want a filter because I want to attempt filter-free vision at times, as much–or as little it may turn out–as
possible. Sometimes, what is needed is not what is looked for, but that which is found almost by accident, coincidences bred
by the process of seeking itself. There is more in the universe than the components of my identity and more, much more than
anything I have ever noticed or considered-and it is sometimes an unassuming hoof that leads me to a glimpse of the more.
Naturally, from time to time, I consciously become preoccupied with various ideas and approaches; sometimes, there’s motive,
but such preoccupation is but temporary commitment, a detour, if you will, in my travels in perception. I won’t bother to fret the
unconscious, and if it is indeed unconscious, how could I fret it anyway? I don’t want to knowingly see [hoping soon to be free
of my crutches] only the same things in the same way all the time; eventually, surely I’d become bored or claustrophobic if I
became confined and entrenched in such unnatural stability, in stasis that frightens me–if death is stasis, then that will be why I
won’t like it. And why I already dislike the stability I’ve presumed of infinity. And why I like the hoof, for its picture, only a
picture, of infinity that within the context of hoof is fallible, so acceptable.
I don’t think that I ignore the facts of my identity–facts that sometimes can be fallible–but identity is most often behind me–a
type of fortification?– rather than in front of me as a lens through which anything viewed first must be interpreted. If identity, no
matter its subordinate location, alters my perception, then it is altered, but it is a more, I would argue, subtle alteration than
would be identity as required corrective lenses. But a hoof is something I find, at least right now, more interesting and
compelling than obligation to identity and identity’s trappings; I don’t want to limit my search or the outcomes of my searches.
And if I have limited them, I don’t want it to matter; I prefer that what is written transcend identity and intentions. That is best.
Some of my poems perhaps can reject an oversimplification of race by making race an illogical reduction of their meaning; if
race must be on every page, then let it not be a premeditated notion of race brought to the book, but instead a notion of race
challenged, expanded, freed by the book.
I continue to marvel at being alive; indeed, not only at being alive, but also member of humanity that is apparently at the top of
the terrestrial cognitive hierarchy. Fascinating, I think, especially if this position is coincidental and not designed. But no less
strange if by design humanity has come into existence; God’s needing or wanting, if that is the case, to design humanity is
curious, strange, fascinating just as is the apparent existence of so much–yet so little–variety. There are other living forms that
could have been made [and perhaps wait for-or even hide from-discovery]. Extraordinary and marvelous oddity. Humanity is
not a form of existence that could have been predicted. The nose, the ear–their functions could have been carried out by other
anatomical forms, and indeed are in some rather impressive snouts, trunks, slits, in the aliens we design, always in forms with
which we may interact whether to our benefit or detriment.
At times, hoof may require that I consider mule, hinny, their hybrid sterility, both ethical and unethical manipulation, or I can
forget all that and consider the hoofing of dancers in a line-up, stepping away from the height chart, hoofing as their number is
called, guilt or innocence determined by this contest, how well they delight the audience into forgetfulness and/or forgiveness.
Of course, I do not forget that everything can be subjected to political, socioeconomic or to any other interpretation. It is not
necessary that I specify one though I sometimes do, as consequence of an acknowledged obligation to information and to
humanity’s circumstances, humanity’s sometimes so extraordinary circumstances.
I am not satisfied with my poems unless they have attempted some reaching, some moving toward a more that ever moves
away, that is occupied with its own reaching); certain marvelous coincidences, that my toes although right now only appreciating the rug, dig through fiber and evidence of machine-manufacture, encountering premium water (would that be wine?), atmospheric roses, the scent that rises from the water as toes stir, as toenails loosen and drift, gather downstream reforming a flower in the distance, just one, just distance, safe distance from even sweet-smelling density, clutter; look– from here, such pretty debris.
from The Boston Review 23.3. Copyright Boston Review, 1993-2000.
Online Source: http://www-polisci.mit.edu/bostonreview/BR23.3/moss.html
I continue work on the book about my father, that wonderful man, and in the process, I stumbled upon an interview of me about “Raggedness”
Ths ineterview, full title: “The Raggedness of Interacting Boundaries…”: An Interview with Poet Thylias Moss is proving quite useful for my essentail little porject.
I am learning quite a bit about mysef, and this is proving very useful. There are some photos in the library of this blog, that I would love to post, but I had better not at this time, maybe I will once this book, that still needs a title, is published, but now is just too soon.
My father was a semi truck tire recapper, so I will post a couple of YouTube videos about that process:
And now, some photos of my father, semi truck tire recapper until he was no longer able to work (Lung problems):
For this post, I use my former match dot com photo, and my former ok cupid photos.
They caused quite a stir. More than I was hoping for actually. More than I really wanted? No;
I wanted more; I wanted to see if it was true that I can attract attention. I really did. I really do. All the time.
“Only dating explained image from this URL: )
My photos from online dating, (by the way, I am 63 years old, have never dieted in my life, have never had any reconstructive surgery, no cosmetic work of any kind. I do not even wear make-up, no hair weave, extensions or wigs, WSIWYG –all the way. I have never lied about my appearance):
I self-identity as mixed race, because that is what I am, and I am not ashamed of this at all. To be honest, I would not mind if more races mixed; for that is true interaction as long as all participating parties agree to interact; all interacting parties leave something behind, and all interacting parties take something different away, do not interact if you are not willing to change, if you must cling to what you were previously, before interacting for interacting will change you if you let it.
a definition of “interaction” states: “: mutual or reciprocal action or influence” –all interacting parties change!
(so stated right here: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/interaction
–Sure changed me, and I am still changing. Among the many things Thomas Robert told me, all of them wonderful, by the way, he said: “If ever I change my mind, I will tell you” –an he has said nothing to that effect. So I believe when he say din August 2016, that he loves me–
(I do not feel right about online dating; maybe I will in time, but I cannot rush… I have to take my time. I do not want to make any mistakes; I do not want to feel any pressure, especially just to have a man not so far away as Thomas Robert Higginson is. I also want to be fair to all involved, especially to my own heart. I feel guilty just a bit. I do not want to feel this way, but I am also involved in the promotion of New Kiss Horizon, my most recent book to date, and I want to do justice ti that unbelievable love, and that will take time. I have a feeling that will still be pretty; Thomas Robert was the first man to call me that and mean it. Not just those catcalls I often heard. He spoke from his heart, and I am not at liberty to say right here all that Thomas Robert said to me –over many, many years –as the real man behind that name, to the real woman behind the character’s name. )
What I have come to believe via “Limited Fork Theory (and life experience, to be sure), is that much racial discrimination can and will cease when there is more acceptance of mixture. I do not go back five or six generations, no further than my own father, and his father, both pictured here:
Two of the few photos with my father, I was a teenage bride; I never met my paternal grandfather while he was alive:
Here is some info about these men and my experience with train whistles: (courtesy questions Bracken Hamlet asked me on Facebook):
“My father, those long low moans, my father coming back to me… sounds dissolving in the air, night calls, his bounce becoming a sky. He has a long way to travel, from death and its tucking of things inside itself, called burial, but only him curling his tongue into semblance of an ichneumon fly, and that sound is the curl, chalk writing on the night sky. My father once cooked for the railroad, making slaw, his own recipe under handle of the Big Dipper, making a prayer come true, that is what I hear, my father calling me, and I answer, another train, car of his train switching onto another track, and we speak to each other in those whistles, and train treadles of heart traffic…
Warm, loved, a track itself so the trains could enter the station of my heart and join all other memories of him, whippoorwills answering me, duets and trios with scent of dogwood racing along the tracks, the frogs too, a thick froggy carpet that squishy road between homes of my southern grandmothers, one black and the other something else, oh, those platforms where I would wait for the train. My father often whistled and could sound like a train, like President Kennedy too with a yodel stuck in his throat, that’s what he said, the sound of him cutting cabbage for his slaw with the rim of a tin can as shiny as the rails themselves; that my father was rail-thin was often said, he was traveling the best way he could, those special trains, Nickel Plate and Ollie’s; one even said Saskatchewan
You know, I will always miss my father. Always. I was never spanked because of him; he did not believe in hitting; if something can be loved, you don’t hit, you love it. That is how he raised me , so unlike my mother; how different they were. I don’t think she ever hard the trains. Maybe just a screech of metal on metal, trains encountering obstruction on the tracks, circles in her mind, constricting it. Oh I also recall the magic of being in Terminal Tower when the locomotives chugged into Higbees underground, and the magicians’ smoke filled the space, overlaid more drawings on the luscious artwork, murals (that never should have been destroyed, work sewer rats could do, but I would think that even they would gag on such colorful profundity and drop like tubes of oil paint, potential usefulness squeezed out, fat gray gloves decorating the scene); smoke gushing out of the front silver plate, folded with the fold pointing out like a collar cradled in silvery recollections; this is what irons wanted to be, but not even that Rowenta came close, the steam irons would slobber on the clothes when they weren’t working properly; they wanted to be flattened for usefulness on the railroads, my paternal grandfather built them, hammer and pickaxe, Native American, Caucasian and immigrant from India, dry-land stevedore, oh, oh, oh, these memories….those murals in Terminal Tower railroad station“:
— Some of this deserves, warrants repeating, and some of this will pear in slightly different form in a book I am at long last writing about my father, including a scene I will have to completely imagine since my father’s death in 1980; he got to see not one of my books while he was alive; he never got to see his only biological grandson; he never got to see me truly happy with a man, the way I was with Thomas Robert Higginson, and I wish my father could have seen that photo of me standing beside Thomas Robert on a bridge, happiest weekend off my life so far; (even my son who never met my father, commented that he had never seen me happy with a man before, and I know with all my heart that true.
–Must sidetrack for just a bit right here, because I was married for forty years, and did not know the pleasure I found with Thomas Robert — says a lot about Thomas Robert, I know, and it is not my intention to embarrass him; but when a man has achieved something as special as this, you just do not keep it to yourself,
(If you want to know more, and I hope you do, then by all means read, New Kiss Horizon!
end of sidetracking, but not the end, probably never will be, of feelings for Thomas Robert Higginson)
(find out more about New Kiss Horizon here :
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:
Dear Thomas, I sure hope that you do not mind my posting in this blog a photo that said to me was pure “delight’ –that’s what I felt, also; I am standing right beside you where I belong, and you are standing right beside me where you belong, always:
and I am writing a scene in which my father is holding his usual study, his brothers-in-law sitting at the dining room table , table my mother still has, by the way, his lectures on the composition and location of the human soul, a bottle of Old Mr. Boston nearby, pale in the glasses, like my skin when it sparkles (as it did when I was with Thomas, especially whenever he kissed me and I kissed him); Thomas Robert is a drinker too; they would have enjoyed each other very much, and my father would have been joyous indeed to see that I had loved someone like Thomas Robert Higginson.
image from :http://www.liquor.com/brands/mr-boston/
Back to the business of reverie, and repetition, for all of this is true, nothing truer has ever existed:
You know, I will always miss my father. Always. I was never spanked because of him; he did not believe in hitting; if something can be loved, you don’t h it, you love it. That is how he raised me , so unlike my mother; how different they were. I don’t think she ever hard the trains. Maybe just a screech of metal on metal, trains encountering obstruction on the tracks, circles in her mind, constricting it. Oh I also recall the magic of being in Terminal Tower when the locomotives chugged into Higbees underground, and the magicians’ smoke filled the space, overlaid more drawings on the luscious artwork, murals (that never should have been destroyed, work sewer rats could do, but I would think that even they would gag on such colorful profundity and drop like tubes of oil paint, potential usefulness squeezed out, fat gray gloves decorating the scene); smoke gushing out of the front silver plate, folded with the fold pointing out like a collar cradled in silvery recollections; this is what irons wanted to be, but not even that Rowenta came close, the steam irons would slobber on the clothes when they weren’t working properly; they wanted to be flattened for usefulness on the railroads, my paternal grandfather built them, hammer and pickaxe, Native American, Caucasian and immigrant from India, dry-land stevedore, oh, oh, oh, these memories….those murals in Terminal Tower railroad station
copyright © 2017 by Thylias Moss. Published by arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.
It is important that I say this.
It is important that we not remain prisoners of the past.
It is important that we acknowledge change.
It is important that we allow anything to become something else, and not hold it to whatever it was.
“Change” systems are the way; once something has changed, we must allow that thing to exist in a form of system is only a temporary stop; I do not want to think that is a final, instead, only an emerging form. What would we really be if we could not change? Think of how you may have been at birth; I would assume that you have changed in some way, and isn’t that the idea, to not remain as you were, and to not continue to be judged as that?
What is it that does not have a past not meant to threaten us like ghosts we are unable to escape?
Do you really think I would want to be what I was?
I happen to like evolving, even from my parents; only my mother remains alive, and she wants me to be “saved” from , I hope, hating myself as much as she hates herself.
If you really know me then you also know I am not my mother, though she would prefer that I was. Although she would prefer me to be someone I am not.
My mother insists on dying as she is, unable to change. There is withering I can do about that, as I do not intend to die her death. I will die my own, and unlike her, I have bio idea what will follow that event.
She is convinced,
however, that I am going to hell; I cannot change her belief system, nor do I think I should, but I can say this, that after interacting with my father for so many years, my mother did not change as she could have.
(half of his father seen below, and half of me)
my paternal grandfather
(Native American, Indian (from India), and Caucasian)
She is becoming increasingly evangelical, and has dementia that is taking the mother I once knew so far away from me.
And I accept this. Even though my own mother, 87 years old right now is unable to accept me.
And please understand that I am okay with this, I just want to live my life, and of course, I will make mistakes some fo the time, maybe even all of the time, but I will not imprison anyone in their past as my mother rimprisons herself.
I allow that all things may change, and in fact I want them to.
Go ahead and change. Go ahead and become. Go ahead and take the risk, or do you really feel that you have achieved an ultimate form of yourself?
I do not, and at 63, I continue to plod forward, ideally emerging as something better by the end of this life.
My thanks to any of you who have contributed in any way to evolution systems of Thylias Moss.
A few selfies of me, all grown up at 63:
The last time I saw her hair. She hates it, and hates herself. Completely missed the back power movement. All that prejudice in the south of her birth, Alabama and Tennesssee, called the little black one and fully believed every denigration, even denigrated herself, wanted her child, me to have the hair she always wanted, and I do, never relaxed. no chemical treatment, except she wanted my hair for herself.
THAT Length she craves.
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.
Tonight, Good Times Writer’s Buffet!
PUBLIC POOL ART SPACE
FROM PUBLIC POOL’s about us page:
Public Pool is an art cooperative formed in 2010 that was designed to create and support a wide range of contemporary art experiences. Founding members include writer Steve Hughes and his wife, artist Anne Harrington-Hughes, author and Team Detroit creative director Toby Barlow, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) board member Jessie Doan, advertising-industry creatives Mary Trybus and Jim Boyle, who is also a former Detroit Institute of Arts executive, artist/curator Tim Hailey, who’s also the former co-director of New York City non-profit gallery HEREart, writer and musician Walter Wasacz, and artist/musician Jennifer Paull.
My image reflects how I look after having my butt-kissing hair done at Penthouse Hair Design, 561 N. Hewitt Sy. in Ypsilanti, MI, and I am wearing the hat of a friend, at
I m 62 years old, and unretouched in every way, okay, my stylist Pat Freeman used some hair coloring to hide the little bit of gray hair I have. Although it is fine to adorn hair any way that you like, indeed, hair is no more than an accesssory now; but it is fine if you must have a feast in the mirror that way, but I don’t have to do that… Not than anyone is asking, but I weight on 98 poiunds, and I’ve never had to diet.
Also upcoming: a reading from my new book, “Wannabe Hooche Mama, Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code“, on 30 November 2016, 7:00 pm at Columbia University.
will have more details about that later in the years, for now, just know how excited I am to read there, and hope to see all of my friends at the Columbia Reading. Huge thanks to Timothy Donnelly for inviting me… I will be reading, among other pieces for Wannabe! –my signature poem, soon to appear in “The Fiddlehead of Canada, “Higginson Matters in Magnificent Culture of Myopia“
Here’s what the Persea Page says about my 11th book:
Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code: New & Selected Poems
Thylias Moss, one of American poetry’s great innovators, is a national taxonomist and secular preacher who catalogues our culture and responds in gorgeous outrage to its injustices. This career-spanning volume conveys the hypnotic spectrum of her full poetic output, from Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman, her 1983 debut, to Slave Moth, her acclaimed 2006 novel in verse, to more than fifty pages of new poems. Whether in early or recent writing, Moss makes no promises of smooth sailing: even when her poems begin with beloved cultural icons (Robert Frost, Doctor Who, the Statue of Liberty), they insist on new perspectives, truths, and realities. She is a fearless reimaginer of poetry’s possibilities, a writer who seems made for (and by) the digital age—its blitz of interactivity and reinvention—a futuristic archivist always compelled by the current moment. Arranged chronologically, this volume offers us Moss as she has evolved through the past three decades, recognizable yet unpredictable, ever “a poet of fierce intelligence and radiant intensity” (Martín Espada). Wannabe Hoochie Mama of Realities’ Red Dress Code is in indispensable book, a record of who this essential writer has been and where she may be heading.
Praise for Thylias Moss
“Thylias Moss is a permanent American poet, canonical in the old, authentic sense.”—Harold Bloom
“As if the muse of Wallace Steves were transplanted into the body of a black, female pop-culture maven.”—David Yaffe, Village Voice
“It’s tempting to confuse Moss with the characters she describes, so deeply does she appear to inhabit their lives. . .[with] her trademark intensity and ferocious intelligence.”—Jabari Asim, Washington Post Book World
“Reading Thylias Moss is always dangerous and exhilarating, because one never knows exactly when the poem might explode and leave its reader marked forever.”—Raphael Campo, Parnassus Poetry in Review
“Thylias Moss names the black truths behind white lies. She is a writer who speaks bitterness and makes her own music of it.”—Marilyn Hacker, Women’s Review of Books
About the Author
Thylias Moss is a multi-racial Professor Emerita in the departments of English and Art & Design at the University of Michigan. Her eight previous books of poetry include Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and Slave Moth, named Best Poetry Book of 2004 by Black Issues Book Review. Moss is a recipient of the fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations, among other honors. She lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
There will be even more readings as time moves on, and I will be moving also, as soon as my house sells. Time for a change, in every possible way. Time to let go, as the commercial goes, and discover other possibilities, wherever that may be.
Shout out to Thomas Higginson wherever he is, I will not pretend; I love that man, even while the world falls to pieces, as in:
“Of course, I read your Fb post about “Orlando” –and I even left a comment, but this longer message is about “otherness” itself, something I’ve been writing about practically since I started writing when I was six years old. And I even sent you a sort burst of a text message saying “The Pulse” Orlando. Not just the ‘Magic Kindom‘ anymore, or rather there is an”other” kind of magic now…
I have two friends and former students who live in Orlando, one of whom has offered that I come live with her right after my house sells. She is lesbian, and the “other” is HIV+ and gay and one of my dearest friends, other than you, but after hearing your poem, I suspect that I am more to you than “just” (as if that is diminishing), “just a friend” –no matter what we do or do not become, with you, Mystery Man, I have the greatest friendship-love affair in my life. Something I know you already know –an “other”-worldly romance.
My Mystery Man wrote a poem about me, the most beauitiful love poem, I have ever heard, and I found him reading it online, and it changed my life again; because of that poem, I know how deeply —in his own voice!— this man cares about me; I know that this man loves me, and I insert a photo right here, to show that I listened myself; “cream in my coffee“, he writes a cup of coffee (Latte I had at B-24’s in Ypsilanti) thinking of his poem:
he calls me, among other things the:
“Cream in my coffee”
swirls of me right there, I appreciate the caramel coloring, the blend and lines of multiple races, because that is who and what I am; cannot separarate me into parts successfuly, without destroying me , and this world does enough of that… Hiatus on destruction, please.
(my current Facebook profuile image):
I cannot say more without possibly exposing his identity, and I like being involved with a mystery man…
And if you look through most of my books, Mystery Man, you will see that the poems deal with the “other”. I was born as “other” –official census reports refused to acknowledge “official” existence of citizens not fitting into “neat” boxes of race. But not killing us physically; only diminishing us with that “one drop” rule, and some of the things I want you to notice about me also make me “other”… When I go walking momentarily –to you Mystery Man — as I do most days, it is an “other” who will walk through this neighborhood, and I guess it is an “other” who cares about you so much after seeing you such a few times –not normal; still qualifies me as “other”. My neighbor knows an “other” when she sees one. And I know that you know that in my mind, I always walk off that bridge to you, my ass-kissing hair really kissing my ass…
Now, for intelligence, my “otherness” was recognized in first grade. Nothing but trouble because of this, and the dreadful things that happened at Syracuse University (I was there only from 1971-1972, world was so different then…
I was from one of those “other ” worlds,because I was “other” , because I am “other”… And who knows, Mystery Man, maybe part of what you like about me?
–Lord knows, I will never completely understand nor ask about your taste in women, and although I’ve been faithful to you, I have never assumed that you have experienced similar faithfulness to me. I also know that no human man can perform the way it seems to me that women accuse you of, making you an “other” in your reputation…. Mind you, I like that reputation about you, because I benefit from that reputation whenever I am (lucky enough to be) around you –my how that reputation glows, Mystery Man
I now refer you to my poem, “Lessons From a Mirror” published in “Pyramid of Bone” originally in “Callaloo“, a poem that ends (as you may know, within the knowledge you have of me, more than anyone else; yes, I knew I was privileging you deliberately… The things you said to me, the things this “other” will never forget because you said them, and I believe whatever you say, because I trust you Mystery Man , as no “other” woman will ever trust you…); “Lessons from a Mirror” ends:
“When you look at me,
know that more than white is missing.”
And the end of, on the facing page, “The Wreckage on the Wall of Eggs“
that contains and ends with:
“The easiest thing was to keep looking east and west
and hating girls who couldn’t control ancestry.
On the wall, all we ever want is easiness.
Egg shells keep turning up on the path, the humpty-dumpties
spill from me and die like so many babies mercy-killed
out of slavery.
My life on the wall is anything but easy.
I want to but can’t hate Heidi well.
I can’t maintain tragic responses to breaking eggs.
When I look down at the wreckage on the wall of eggs that
cane out of me, I see that what’s inside is as white and
gold as Heidi.”
Same book: end of “A Reconsideration of the Blackbird“:
(Also see this YouTube video in which my first name is mispronounced [should be THIGH-lee-us or THY-lee-us]; but that is highly unimportant –he found usefulnes for the words; that is what matters, usefulness for the words, beyond the usefulness I felt in writing, arranging them –in the arrangements, even in DNA –those arranegements say everything):
“Problem: No one’s in love with the blackbirds.
Solution: Paint them white, call them visions, everyone will want one”
Oh, and my poem, same book,”There will be Animals” to teach us
What we can’t teach ourselves….
Then once and for all we will know it is no illusion:
the lion lying with the lamb, the grandmother and Little Red Riding Hood
walking out of a wolf named Dachau.”
In the red-legged locust’s black raids upon midwest soybeans,
in their illicit transmission of tapeworms and parasites
to quail, 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 excused and trash can seen to fill with dead crows.
There’s a black crust two miles thick in Soweto, some on bread,
some around eyes, most on 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 anytime 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 Asians and Latins who are irreversibly
damaged, whose gangrened minds should be excised but who are
One day I noticed my mother’s face had poured 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, (the University of New Hampshire)
–where I was most definitely other, told by some that I was the first black person they had ever seen.. The only brown female grad student, the only!
The Durham police officer was convinced that I had to come from Harlem, NY, though at the time, I hadn’t been there… And one student who was genuinely curious, and asked me all kinds of things, and told me of his rituals at Wendy’s every Friday night, and his adventures at the mud-pit with his truck; he lived in an isolated section of rural New Hampshire and quite possibly had never seen a brown person in real life… I told him that he was lucky he was asking such questions of me, a non-threatening multi-racial woman [more than 2 races, so not ‘bi’], and some persons of brown heritages would not be as accepting of his questions, but I was, and enjoyed talking with him, and responding to his genuine curisity as best as I could; wish I remembered his name…
And the dorm where I was asked if I were Egyptian? Yes, I said. Sri Lankan? Yes, I said. From Peru? “Sí” I said. Colombia? ” Sí“again.
Of course, I also heard a student, I did not know, remark that blacks were the only people to have pubic hair on their heads; only you know what I have on my head and elsewhere, Mystery Man; only you, you Lucky Devil .
The Durham police officer wanted me to validate for him that the stereotyical big city police life was the way it was portrayed on “Hill Street Blues” and I assured him that show was much more a documentary than fiction.
Here’s a little clip of the TV series:
This was also the place that my biracial student J whose father was a professor of African American history at Harvard Uiversity, as I recall, but had married a white woman, learned that her father did not think her beautiful because she had none of the assumed, and stereotyical markers of biracial heritage, not the complexion, not the nose or mouth, and most importantly, she lacked the hair, that evidently, her father preferred. Oh the scathing essay she wrote as she became aware of this knowledge.
She was totally rejected.
No one would date her; most of the black males were recruited for athletics, and just like stereotypes had their pick of white women, leaving J and other black women without dates.
I was the only brown female graduate student , and I was married, so I was asked to lead a series of meetings between the very popular black male athletes and the dateless black women, including J (who with her mother, M wrote a book about biraciality –it’s on Amazon).
In these meetings, I shared sections of Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon“where Hagar nearly dies for want of Milkman who prefers hair color of a penny, who does not like, she says, hair like mine. In a frenzy and desperation, Hagar rushes out and buys the clothes that she feels might make Milkman notice her and possibly want her. The black men laughed, and the females were devastated; these two groups could not communicate. Not human rejecting human, nothing like that, with “otherness” well-established.
(what a Google search of “other” reveals):
adjective & pronoun
adjective: other; pronoun: other; pronoun: others
used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about.“stick the camera on a tripod or some other means of support”
- the alternative of two.“the other side of the page”
- those remaining in a group; those not already mentioned.“they took the other three away in an ambulance”
further; additional.“one other word of advice”
that which is distinct from, different from, or opposite to something or oneself.
**verb: other; 3rd person present: others; gerund or present participle: othering; past tense: othered; past participle: othered
view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself.**
As Anne Frank writes (in “The Diary of a Young Girl“):
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”
I care about this Mystery Man very much, but he belongs to himself, and if there’s ever anything else, he will have to decide.
There is no mystery there.
All his descision.