Rosa Alcalá curates poems in which the body plays a central role as a performing presence. She selects and shares Roberto Tejada’s exploration of control and surrender (“Sun bursting as in water beads”), Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop’s stereophonic collaborative poem (“Light Travels”), and Black Took Collective’s daring, experimental performance piece on race and racism (“Betraying Blackness”). Alcalá concludes by reading her poem “You in Cutoffs,” which looks back at the self in the past, a body lifted above a crowd.
[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING]
Julie Swarstad Johnson
[00:00:02.52] You're listening to Poetry Centered, the podcast that brings you recordings of writers reading their work here in Tucson, curated and introduced by contemporary poets. These recordings come to you from Voca, the audiovisual archive of the University of Arizona Poetry Center. I'm Julie Swarstad Johnson here to welcome you to our show. Our host today is Rosa Alcalá, a poet, translator, and professor in the bilingual MFA in creative writing program at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her most recent collection of poetry is My Other Tongue and she is the editor and co-translator of Cecilia Vicuña: New and Selected Poems.
[00:00:46.05] In this episode Rosa brings together recordings that consider the body, presence, and performance, with poems by Roberto Tejada, and Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop and a performance piece by the Black Took Collective. Rosa, thank you for being our host today and welcome.
[00:01:04.55] Hello, everyone. This is Rose Alcalá, speaking to you from El Paso, Texas. The first poem I want to share with you is by my dear friend Roberto Tejada. It's called "Sun Bursting as in Water Beads" from his book, Full Foreground. He read this poem on the 25 of April, 2013. What I love about this poem is what I love about a great deal of Roberto Tejada's poetry, it demonstrates that desire is not in opposition to intellectual inquiry or curiosity, or doesn't have to be.
[00:01:43.98] These twinned impulses drive the poem, the propulsion of lines mirroring a heightened absorption of the speaker's body by and into the body he is describing. As he reads them, he pushes them forward too, with these marked pauses that give way to the line again. It's a masterful reading that captures the poem's own exploration of control and gradual surrender. I mean, notice how the poem begins with the description of someone the speaker refers to as a hero, reading the surfaces of his body as if a statue, and ends with that delicious code switch-- which I'm tempted to give away but I won't-- because I want you to experience it for yourself. Here is Roberto Tejada reading "Sun Bursting as in Water Beads."
[00:02:41.66] "Sun bursting as in water beads along his lower back and inner thigh in awe derived from looking at a hero's body. Aimless drift within made visible out of squint and second sight or gleaming eager intake of breath a mouth full stop short of lipped inhale elliptic against heft in mine made immediate graze of finest hair. Rise and pull of his stomach fist-grip and temples wet this heave flesh hold in terms of reach and recoil ample bearing hesitate and limber shift enjoyed immersion glisten.
[00:03:20.04] From forehead and sideburn down the scar of his lower angle finite these same words over and over what a face denotes in pleasured reference itself a silver orbit tiny pierce at his nipple roused. Thumb slick inside the hollow of my mouth round pressed with tongue and finger this is oil, liquid news, swayed anticipation and too much reward the smell of butane nothing hidden I'm outnumbered.
[00:03:47.40] Every tongue in my ear struggled sum of them in droplets distend swell in me this is volume rippled mummery in advance of forced poised clutches deft in handle a weightless double-take of a minute the imprint my drenched face nestled in appetite and surfeit I make mound of here his mouth a snarl an onrush ours a whole surface impelled into fuck yes abundance glow for me."
[00:04:16.08] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:04:23.65] The second poem I want to share, "Light Travels," is a collaboration between Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop that she refers to as a variant of a renga. I was completely entranced by the stereophonic quality of this reading from March 5th 2011. The way these two voices, one tethered to the other, creates a pattern of echoes, mirrors, and variations. There's something achingly beautiful in hearing two people who have shared a long life together also share a poem in this way. It is especially beautiful for me to hear the voice of my teacher Keith, alongside that of Rosemary who is another poetry teacher of sorts. It feels as if I'm brought back into some room with them, listening intently, trying to learn. Here are Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop reading "Light Travels."
[00:05:23.72] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:05:28.07] Before you get rid of me, I'm actually going to call Keith here and we want to read, in between the two of us, we want to read a collaboration. The collaboration is called "Light Travels," and it's a variant on the form of a renga, you know, which is for many poets, but were only two of us and so we tinkered a little bit with the rules. But it-- you'll notice what happens. So (ASIDE) come closer to the microphone. OK, so "Light Travels."
[00:06:07.70] "Light travels common time I follow you unkept secret on a basic underground
[00:06:20.68] Common time I follow you unkept secret on a basic understand this is the first part of the rhyme allow for sequences of overheard
[00:06:36.12] This is the first part of the rhyme allow for sequences of overheard close the curtains but playful elaborations of otherwise arrogant variations keeping the window open
[00:06:53.75] Close the curtains but playful elaborations of otherwise arrogant variations keeping the window open as it's wrong to shut one's eyes to dream it's raining while it is in fact raining
[00:07:12.11] As it's wrong to shut one's eyes to dream it's raining while it is in fact raining ears busied with hearing more than one voice the stream our tears unmirror
[00:07:32.13] Ears busied with hearing more than one voice the stream our tears unmirror or mere error as if naturally hard of divided noise rings in our fears
[00:07:49.35] Or mere error as if naturally hard of divided noise rings in our fears expands danger within our long thin hands contract across quiet gravel
[00:08:08.89] Expands danger within our long thin hands contract across quiet gravel narrow fruit tin cans loss of the white of other eyes
[00:08:24.08] Narrow fruit tin cans loss of the white of other eyes song out of mind
[00:08:34.97] Song out of mind or am I tethered so blind a coloring of thought
[00:08:45.02] Or am I tethered so blind a coloring of thought intrinsically fuzzy the sound as pavement
[00:08:58.81] Intrinsically fuzzy the sound as pavement whereas tenses are a later development
[00:09:08.48] Whereas tenses are a later development limits of a body open sea the great sea journey
[00:09:21.18] Limits of a body open sea the great sea journey how different the grammars of to think or swim
[00:09:33.82] How different the grammars of to think or swim reminiscence and extinction"
[00:09:45.39] Thank you
[00:09:55.34] The last poem is not a poem per se but a performance called "Betraying Blackness" by the Black Took Collective, which consists of the poets Ronaldo Wilson, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Duriel E. Harris. The recording doesn't capture the immersive experience that was the live performance at the Poetry Off the Page symposium. But I was there in attendance on May 19 2012, having driven five hours from El Paso, and I can tell you it was extraordinary in terms of its critical daring and the way it layered improvised and planned elements, recorded and not. I recommend, too, the Q&A in which Dawn Lundy Martin gives the audience its Miranda warning by saying that any question asked can be used in a future performance. Here are the Black Took Collective with their performance, "Betraying Blackness."
Black Took Collective:
[00:11:03.71] [SOUNDS OF AN AUDIENCE]
[00:11:19.96] [SOUNDS OF AN AUDIENCE, TALKING, COUGHING]
[00:11:24.83] [MUSIC - "Cucurrucucu Paloma"]
[00:11:35.94] (SINGING - FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
[00:12:24.56] What are the conditions of duress?
[00:12:27.71] [SONG CONTINUES]
[00:12:37.80] No way and no way out.
[00:12:41.85] [SONG CONTINUES]
[00:13:13.90] That is still waiting
[00:13:15.47] [SONG CONTINUES]
[00:13:21.86] The language spoken is a measure of which--
[00:13:24.76] [SONG CONTINUES]
[00:14:16.44] The language spoken is a measure of which lineation?
[00:14:20.99] [SONG CONTINUES]
[00:14:30.03] When the event happens where does the event end?
[00:14:33.90] [SONG CONTINUES]
[00:15:02.66] When the event happens when does the event end? We are [INAUDIBLE] in our desire
[00:15:11.10] [CHEERING, APPLAUSE]
[00:15:26.44] [FAST MUSIC]
[00:15:29.44] The distance between the thing and the thing that follows. We know that the replica is not the vase itself, we know too that a photo is not the thing. But sometimes we assume that the photo was a transparent lens to the thing. A window. What do I know when I look in the face of your black face? What kind of system is at work under your skin, are you a replica or are you real?
[00:16:06.91] Which is the replica and which is the actual thing? Replica of what? Or whom? What are we to do with the thing imagined? There's always a nigger in the wood-pile.
[00:16:29.26] [CHEERING, APPLAUSE]
[00:16:32.59] I like to imagine that the photograph was [INAUDIBLE] son. Not as a person but to have some contract with the person A contract that says I will try very ardently not to kill you. What is the body a representation of? Each one in relation to maybe a framework for cultural similarity. What other bodies are like this body? Who has this performance of language in the body?
[00:17:11.67] Who has it? Its speech and gestures, tongue of blackness, a way of speech or bodily gesture behind speech, a set of references and understandings around the taste and taste the category of discrimination a struggle. I believed or imagined homeplace a container. When one has closely cropped the hair, does the body male or female? Over the phone is it Black or white, Latino, or Asian? I feel like throwing a brick through the window suddenly, I feel like vomiting all over the hood of your car. I got your nigger realness right here.
[00:17:58.07] The critique here is not of individual or even collective experience, but of the ways in which the encircling of particular sense of identity constructions name them as authentic and true. We are not, in the first place, singular cells as the boys more than hinted at a 100 years ago our dynamic of the gaze of the other prohibits that.
[00:18:26.79] What about our culture needs these constructions to be singular and legible, and conversely, why does resisting tropes of recognizability belie certain authenticity, negate a certain realness? This limitation of imagination, although well-intentioned, ends up enacting the very regimes of power that identity work sought to undo [INAUDIBLE] in the first place. We are well-intentioned.
[00:19:02.58] We are now in the marketplace. There are certain demands for recognizability. It hungers for the replication of the source material regardless of whether or not that source reflects the complications [INAUDIBLE] The marketplace demands that the product for consumption be not so unseeable to us that it is illegitimate. How much is that nigger in the window? The power of the fragment is that it resists totality.
[00:19:36.91] When I look into the sun I see nothing instead I'm visually accosted. I cannot open my eyes, I cannot look at the thing I want to see. I turn away, I pull my hat down in front of my eyes, I obscure my vision in order to better see the object.
[00:20:03.40] Divide and critical assessment, relative closeness unfortunate box, rigid and no pliable formula in the divide. To avoid catatonic state, glaze in whole at what's not left over. They say, there are traces, that there will always be traces, it's a fiction anyway, a construction of the minds needs that they hold on to filament, gestures as material. In the hole, we find a digging, fingernails deep in refuse, here is the trash heap.
[00:20:37.03] Nothing there except the muted wailing, the order's on the horn, the order is telling his life story. We walk the long, hot sidewalk toward water. Touch here is imperative, to hold up contact, contact of suspense and wanting, to prop up or sustain, to call into being from elsewhere, or a reminder of access.
[00:21:03.25] Late, interminable. I do not know where my house is, where's my house? Summer steams by, every border is cocked and ready, flattened body against cool earth. Lie without sound, be a cool corpse under wire teeth. Police are so young they do not hear the wailing, Wailing, I'm told, is a figment of your imagination. What to know of the body's refusal to open, of the body's hidden cave. Put the cave inside another cave so no one can reach it.
[00:21:42.25] Perspiration aches, strain against dirt walls. I have come to you from a metal house, we had steel barriers to protect us from the sun. The lake drifts into forever. Windows here are small and I cannot see myself in them. What it is to be captured by spoons.
[00:22:16.87] When the head is shoved, it naturally resists. Cover her dark face and black cloth [INAUDIBLE]. We are infinitely disgraced, wishes, well-wishers, eel. I am eleven and I am led into a dim room where my brother and his friends are watching a 32mm film in which a woman is gangbanged. Upon entering the eye distends. To claim is to maneuver, punishment referent-- belt, whip, glory.
[00:22:56.45] We speak to each other through mountains. You extreme God-likeness, whose presence entered my world, who decided upon and then let go, I present you with a phantasmagoric me, and wear a sheath and jewels, my tits hang out. I'm unworthy, mouth unfastened, jaw in, I fast, I work, I design, I craft and then I pour out. I stiffen upon command.
[00:23:29.21] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:23:40.10] [BIRD SOUNDS]
[00:23:48.77] [BARELY AUDIBLE VOICES]
[00:23:57.87] The Black white [INAUDIBLE] is more methodical you can learn from it but it's radical, yeah--
[00:24:08.00] [BIRD SOUNDS]
[00:24:20.91] [CACKLING LAUGHTER, LOUD AND FORCED]
[00:24:26.56] So, so, so--
[00:24:34.08] [RECORDED VOICE - INAUDIBLE]
[00:24:58.78] I-- I actually-- you are my intended audience
[00:25:07.19] Good to hear that.
[00:25:16.07] Poetry is a filmic medium in the way it creates insight.
[00:25:31.92] [MUSICAL CHANT]
[00:25:36.15] Don't even try it, it's impossible to vacillate, don't even try it. Don't even try it, you think you can approach it, step back smartly. Don't even try it. This is off the dome, I'm not even trying, it's easy for me. Off the dome, without writing anything down, off the dome, imaginary free-styling, like this.
[00:25:55.45] Who's hilarious [INAUDIBLE] spittle [INAUDIBLE] the corner supernatural rhyme scene [INAUDIBLE] I'm not your dork, I'm more than this. This isn't slam poetry, this is your ma'am poetry, mom. Don't even try it, don't even think you can approach ETC, but we love thee.
[00:26:15.83] [AUDIENCE CHUCKLE]
[00:26:17.21] Delicately. Don't even try to [INAUDIBLE]--
[00:26:20.10] [VOCALS ONLY] (SINGING) We love thee.
[00:26:23.37] We started talking about it a long time ago, but--
[00:26:26.46] --there were a lot of ideas--
[00:26:28.13] --that were, you know--
[00:26:30.46] --growing In our conversation--
[00:26:33.83] --and then--
[00:26:35.81] hmm mm-hmm
[00:26:38.00] --kind of, accidentally--
[00:26:39.65] --stumbled into this common--
[00:26:43.04] --and decided to--
[00:26:44.54] --work with it, and I hadn't--
[00:26:45.74] --seen her since--
[00:26:47.10] --you know--
[00:26:48.10] mm mm mm
[00:26:56.62] Mm-hmm mm mm mm hmm To the radical fracture contagion of [INAUDIBLE] static line. It's as though you've already been ordained to be stuck in the static. Do you like it? Probably. Do you like it?
[00:27:17.75] I fucking love static.
[00:27:18.90] Me too. Mm-hmm Mm-hmm
[00:27:21.90] I want some static over here.
[00:27:23.75] People love that shit. Toe the line, do your job, be my friend, write my book. Write my book.
[00:27:35.86] Write my book. You got this.
[00:27:41.71] [MUSIC PLAYING] (SINGING) When you hover around the subject, the subject, the subject. The subject we'll call transposition between time and space. And that space contains a gaggle--
[00:27:58.23] When you hover around a subject, a subject that is Southern Something we'll call a transposition of time and space. And that space contains a gaggle--
[00:28:08.06] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:28:18.54] When you hover around a subject, a subject that is Southern. A something we'll call a transposition of time and space and that space contains a gaggle of niggers screaming out of vestibules. I get you bitch, you want to battle, don't try to tattle tell, I gotta lead you. Daddy's [INAUDIBLE] Play playing the wife, grab the curve out of the old cock. Flop it, chief said.
[00:28:36.57] Can I meditate myself into oblivion, can I meditate myself into a line, can I meditate myself into a flow, something like this? Can you do that? Someone should say, stop the beat, homo. You know what I mean-- it's all so familiar-- It's all so familiar, drop you beat, pick the beat up, listen, listen, Ya ya, [INAUDIBLE] listen.
[00:29:03.92] [PERCUSSION MUSIC]
[00:29:08.23] When you hover around the subject, the subject that is Southern, I'm Southern, I'm subject to Southern. When you hover round the Southern, recall the Southern. When I'm transpositioning inside this space, it's a great space, it's my space, it's my space. If I meditate, meditate, your looking from hot, hot body on the yoga floor, they're looking at me. Giovanni says, she says to me, she says, Giovanni says to me, you like to be a spectacle, that's why [INAUDIBLE]
[00:29:28.26] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
[00:29:31.00] --isn't just fans. That's why she said, that to me. And I say, you want to battle with me? That's preposterous. Want You want try it, you will get smashed monstrously. Monstrously. Don't even try it. Sometimes I battle for practice, take on people like Vanessa Place, who I love, and love. But I want to battle her, battle her. I called her out at the conference.
[00:29:48.61] There's a monster--
[00:29:49.52] [INAUDIBLE] like a monster, a monstrous-- all bravado and braggadocio. But I'm Filipino. Pinoy, Pinoy, Pinoy born. Isn't it so complicated. Don't hire than mixed Black. Don't hire the mixed one, you can't stand the complications. Hire the Black, hire the mixed Black, hire the mix.
[00:30:12.73] [BACKGROUND MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:30:17.18] [SOUND OF PING PONG BALL BOUNCING]
[00:30:19.65] [WAVES ON THE BEACH]
[00:30:22.61] [SOUND OF PING PONG BALL BOUNCING]
[00:30:32.03] Squeeze his legs together rhythmically, hopes no-one notices, this is better than love, because it's not unlike pleasure. Like pleasure, it's no way to film, the persuasion, the effort of filming relentless hours.
[00:30:42.53] [SLOW PERCUSSIVE MUSIC]
[00:30:50.32] Hmm mm hmm
[00:30:51.71] (SINGING) What you want, babe?
[00:30:53.72] To relax
[00:30:54.12] (SINGING) What you want, babe?
[00:30:55.30] I'm feeling tense, to stretch, I need a massage. I need a massage, that's what my Scottish daddy says, you should get a massage. He drives a Range Rover and a Jag, and both are black. And his house got flooded in the faux Katrina in Vermont, and he reinvested and he put $20,000 in it, in his tax returns, he just claimed it all back-- and he claimed $50,000. And I said, how could you do such a thing? But I thought I'd do the same fucking thing too.
[00:31:27.62] [SOUND OF PING PONG BALL BOUNCING]
[00:31:30.49] [SLOW PERCUSSIVE MUSIC]
[00:31:34.79] (SINGING) When we hover around-- when we hover around a subject, a subject, a subject, [INAUDIBLE] Something we'll call a transposition of time and space, and space contains a gaggle-- false imagination, [INAUDIBLE]
[00:31:53.76] I don't want to battle, I want to choose my rattle. I don't want to battle, I want to choose my-- choose my, choose my-- choose my path. Incidentally it's the subject under discish-disc-dis-disc-- discussion is not in the building. There might be a one, the one in three is true-- multiply, we're absent, vacating. We're on vacation. I am. Ha-ha-ha-ha.
[00:32:25.59] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:32:29.36] (SINGING) I get that too, it's handy. But why am I spiralling? It's rent free. I'm the one they say is an imposition--
[00:32:37.16] These are the comings together of a potential rent boy on 18th, I wanted that identity.
[00:32:43.05] How much do you want?
[00:32:43.83] I'll take a thousand dollars. But that was enough, kind of worked well in poverty.
[00:32:49.59] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:33:04.52] (SINGING) When you lick your lips like this [INAUDIBLE] you say I'm [INAUDIBLE] It's like you're opening up [INAUDIBLE] explode in the middle and you stay together long enough to make a photo call. [INAUDIBLE]
[00:33:23.45] [LOUD LAUGHTER]
[00:33:25.44] When you hover round the subject that is Southern, something we'll call a transposition of time and space--
[00:33:30.97] Talk to me, Talk to me
[00:33:34.92] --vestibules, that's the vehicle-- [INAUDIBLE] on the edges, the edges, [INAUDIBLE] hegemonic principles
[00:33:48.14] [INAUDIBLE] it's all about [INAUDIBLE] imaginations, the machine-- the machine, the car, the car. The verb or noun-- or noun-- the crime [INAUDIBLE] is death. It's not good enough for a [INAUDIBLE]
[00:34:08.26] When you hover around the subject, your stomach opens up to the Southern [INAUDIBLE] something we'll call a transposition-- of positionalities of time and space, erase the space, the space is all about an arrangement. [INAUDIBLE] which you put on hooks for catching catfish. Look at this [INAUDIBLE] mixed daddy and watching you, looking at you too, for, fisherman exchange their jobs.
[00:34:36.22] When you hover round the subject--
[00:34:40.02] --inside of you. So help [INAUDIBLE] go up for those sitting in the back, and you can do it right, you can do it anywhere. [INAUDIBLE], fracture, fragment-- let it fly, fly ball, over the left field, wave, wind, trance. Harnesses, harnesses, hard-asses, harnesses, hard-asses, harnesses, fish [INAUDIBLE]--
[00:35:00.74] [PIANO MUSIC - WITH BEAT AND WORDS CONTINUING QUIETLY IN
[00:35:04.47] THE BACKGROUND]
[00:35:45.63] And then we began to see them on the street coming to look at the [INAUDIBLE] And then once [INAUDIBLE] there's the store, how was it?
[00:36:03.24] [INAUDIBLE] And so, you know, and then you just view them. Two of them confirmed, which is well reflected in [INAUDIBLE] review. And it was just interesting to us to see how [INAUDIBLE]. So I think, partly, you say [INAUDIBLE] But then that's it.
[00:36:25.17] Power is exercise where it can be exercised.
[00:36:30.74] hmm-- a bit of variation, which is in the words, the sound is dramatic or assumed So, I don't know what it feels when poetry represents this--
[00:36:51.42] Exacting precision, spectacular momentum. 99% of the time someone's in power will act like victims, will say, we're not in power, we're trying save us all-- it's for the sake order.
[00:37:09.44] [RECORDED VOICE] So, yeah, [INAUDIBLE] when you have a good day. [INAUDIBLE]
[00:37:15.59] (SINGING) Oh, beautiful
[00:37:22.72] The current conditions are unforeseen.
[00:37:27.27] (SINGING) Oh, beautiful.
[00:37:41.85] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:37:49.77] (SINGING) Purple mountainside, [INAUDIBLE] be there.
[00:38:03.59] (VOICE RECORDING - WOMAN SPEAKER) So this, the owners of [INAUDIBLE] is something that is not experienced by the majority [INAUDIBLE]. So that [INAUDIBLE] the homelands of the government [INAUDIBLE] of the government contract of the [INAUDIBLE] this is like a resistance or instead [INAUDIBLE]
[00:38:46.88] People say it's not our fault, we didn't notice, how can we notice when the buildings are burning? We're doing everything we can, they'll say. I think the bottom line is any form of discrimination.
[00:39:06.68] (SINGING) Have you heard over there?
[00:39:09.34] (VOICE RECORDING - WOMAN SPEAKER) [INAUDIBLE]
[00:39:23.42] Sing, sing, sing, singing--
[00:39:31.91] Have you heard America singing?
[00:39:34.62] It wasn't [INAUDIBLE].
[00:39:38.46] You, you [INAUDIBLE]
[00:39:41.51] Rivers on exodus--
[00:39:43.67] [INAUDIBLE] don't dream mountain.
[00:39:47.22] [PIANO MUSIC]
[00:40:25.06] A man, [INAUDIBLE] pounds his wife's skull into the shape of his boot.
[00:40:30.12] (SINGING) What's hard, what's hard, what's hard--
[00:40:30.95] The slit in her throat pulses blood into a halo. six-year-old son watches his mother congeal.
[00:40:35.47] A man, [INAUDIBLE] pounds his wife's skull into the shape of his boot--
[00:40:39.51] C'mon all bitches on the right side, put your hands in the air--
[00:40:39.76] The slit in her throat pulses into a halo. Their six-year-old son watches--
[00:40:43.56] I want all you bitches--
[00:40:43.85] --his mother congeal.
[00:40:44.14] --I want all you riches, I want all you whites, I want all you all you people put your hands in the air--
[00:40:47.34] A man, [INAUDIBLE] pounds his wife's skull into the shape of his boot. The slit in her throat pulses blood into a halo. Their six-year-old son watches his mother congeal. A man, [INAUDIBLE] pounds his wife's skull into the shape of his boot--
[00:40:59.81] Master said, he wished he was in a bottle of [INAUDIBLE]
[00:41:03.79] There's here.
[00:41:04.06] There's only so much that one can do-- [INAUDIBLE] was sober.
[00:41:07.42] A man, [INAUDIBLE] pounds his wife's skull into the shape of his boot. The slit in her throat pulses blood into a halo. Their six-year-old son watches his mother congeal.
[00:41:16.48] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
[00:41:22.18] What color is it? Are the walls stone or wood? I don't know, they are cold, mossy in-between bricks. I don't know, they're--
[00:41:37.76] [PIANO MUSIC]
[00:41:44.61] Testing, depending on chance.
[00:41:48.82] Depending on chance. She wades, belaboring, absence.
[00:41:55.53] The word--
[00:41:55.84] Their six-year son watches his mother congeal.
[00:41:56.78] --spoken, written--
[00:41:58.02] A man,
[00:41:59.93] --pounds his wife's skull into the shape of his boot.
[00:42:02.94] The word, spoken
[00:42:03.51] The slit in her throat pulses blood into a halo.
[00:42:04.62] --written, beckoned, relevant--
[00:42:05.73] Their six-year-old son watches his mother congeal.
[00:42:08.31] A man, jaw tightly and only, pounds his wife's skull into the shape of his boot. The slit in cheek pulses blood into the absence. Their six-year-old son watches his mother congeal.
[00:42:18.03] --written, beckoned, relevant--
[00:42:18.72] A man, jaw tight--
[00:42:20.30] Screen separating. Principled act.
[00:42:28.50] A man, jaw tightly and only, saw his wife's skull into the shape of his boot. The slit in her throat pulses blood into a halo. Their six-year-old son watches his mother congeal. Imagines his father stuffed into an air duct locked under the jail he crawled out from. His dreams, a lumpy duffel bag of oily rags and blue-black coveralls.
[00:43:03.41] His dreams, fistful of his father's glistening black hair
[00:43:13.17] --wife's skull into the shape of his boot-- pulses blood into a halo-- their six-year-old so watching--
[00:43:21.25] His dreams lumpy duffel bag of oily rags and--
[00:43:28.35] --their six-year-old son--
[00:43:30.14] --blue-black coveralls.
[00:43:33.92] We didn't--
[00:43:34.61] --his dreams
[00:43:36.33] --we didn't even consult that [INAUDIBLE]
[00:43:38.22] A lumpy duffel bag of oily rags and blue--
[00:43:43.31] --I don't remember from this question-- we didn't even consult about this--
[00:43:46.45] --black coveralls.
[00:43:47.16] I didn't know that you were writing this question, [INAUDIBLE] We didn't consult about this. I don't know that you were, that you were writing this question continuously.
[00:43:55.51] [FORCED HACKING LAUGHTER MIXED WITH COUGHING]
[00:44:00.84] But the truth of the is
[00:44:08.76] We didn't even talk about this--
[00:44:12.31] Black is the prize that sires dreams, black is the prize that sires scurrying black bloodstool black as gas, as [INAUDIBLE] as [INAUDIBLE] as skillet eyes. As skillet eyes, furnace black, crouching [INAUDIBLE] hissing. hissing, hissing, hissing, hissing, hissing, hissing and hissing. Hissing, hissing, hissing, hissing, hissing, (WAIL)
[00:44:53.33] Mud is a good [INAUDIBLE] As the made-up thing I wear to meet you this time, this [INAUDIBLE], this time I will seal the end. This time I will seal the end.
[00:45:33.60] A river has no chin, a river has no chin, nor silt-filled eyes after drinking through a mouth, though a tender dribbles down its pebbled darknesses, to measure its seepage nor means to name the [INAUDIBLE].
[00:45:55.78] It's not a call to death [INAUDIBLE]
[00:45:58.15] I was suffused with color and this touching, I blister and twist my joints, and slip beneath the reeds. Wagging uncoupled my heels, soaked from the cave into the lipped water to break the hand fallen there, the hand untried by reaching. And well now, a stain, taking, grabbing my body, a memory of water sewn into blue grass. I have seen the bodies like candles humming into darkness, going murky against the cradling pavement's slight incline. Discolored through spilt bone, who held me, seized in death, pressed against the cradling, absorbing the light like a black hole. Her face, a staggering axe. Ugh, it's a restless luminescence we take in and move through.
[00:46:59.31] Bottom the world
[00:47:04.05] This time, this time I will see you [INAUDIBLE].
[00:47:10.48] [INTENSIFYING DRUM BEAT]
[00:47:20.90] [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]
[00:47:38.76] This time--
[00:47:41.53] The parliamental word but, but--
[00:47:55.72] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
[00:48:01.55] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:48:23.60] (SINGING) It's our first time together, and I'm feeling kind of horny. Conventional methods of making love kind of bore me. I wanna knock your block off, get my rocks off, blow your socks off, make sure your g-spot's soft.
[00:48:34.28] I'mma call you Big Daddy and scream your name. Matter fact, I can't wait for your candy rain.
[00:48:38.74] So, what you saying? I get my swerve on, bring it live. Make it last forever, damn the kitty cat's tight.
[00:48:44.05] Mm, Daddy, slow down your flow. Put it on me like G baby, nice and slow. I need a rough neck nigger, Mandingo in the sack, who ain't afraid to pull my hair and spank me from the back.
[00:48:54.24] No doubt, I'm the player that you're talking about.
[00:48:57.74] But do you really think that you can work it out.
[00:49:00.36] I guarantee you, Shorty, it's real. Baby stick it out, here comes the man of steel.
[00:49:04.62] Doing it and doing it and doing it well. Doing it and doing it and doing it well. Doing it and doing it and doing it well.
[00:49:12.38] I represent Queens, she as raised out in Brooklyn.
[00:49:15.19] Doing it and doing it and doing it well. Doing it and doing it and doing it well. Doing it and doing it and doing it well.
[00:49:22.02] I represent Queens, she was raised out in Brooklyn.
[00:49:24.37] [LOUD LAUGHTER]
[00:49:26.67] --in the mix searching for the right spot to hit now get down.
[00:49:28.59] Damn, I love a good [INAUDIBLE]
[00:49:30.50] Damn right.
[00:49:30.98] You are my lover.
[00:49:32.41] All night.
[00:49:32.89] The putty good to you? Word to Momma.
[00:49:34.80] Mad tight. The only thing left to do is climax. Let's make it last.
[00:49:38.01] Word we ain't going out like that. All this time, you been telling me that you was a Don.
[00:49:42.08] I tried to warn you, girl. You wouldn't listen, now let's get it on.
[00:49:44.72] Mm, you make me wild. Don't do that. Chill, wait a minute, baby, let me please you back.
[00:49:49.86] You talk a good one, Shorty, now you're making me sweat. How a live nigger like it, girl?
[00:49:54.80] Nice and wet. We get it on to the break of dawn. Damn, you're large. How a big girl like it, Daddy?
[00:49:59.11] Nice and hard. Safe sexing it, flexing it, getting that affectionate. Chewing it, viewing it, all while we're doing it.
[00:50:05.31] Doing it and doing it and doing it well. Doing it and doing it and doing it well. Doing it and doing it and doing it well.
[00:50:13.09] I represent Queens. She was raised out in Brooklyn.
[00:50:15.83] Making a big black [INAUDIBLE] bear weekend, because we always like to end. This is [INAUDIBLE]
[00:50:21.83] Doing it, and doing--
[00:50:22.19] [INTERPOSING VOICES VOCALISING]
[00:50:23.03] Doing it and doing it and doing it, you're swell.
[00:50:30.08] I have not escaped.
[00:50:32.36] Make it bounce, sugar.
[00:50:34.07] Long as you can bounce me back. More flesh than the Greek Fest.
[00:50:38.06] I'm not skinny yet, you advised me about eating--
[00:50:44.14] [INTERPOSING VOICES VOCALISING]
[00:50:46.78] I'm still working, I'm still working on that. I don't want an opinion.
[00:50:52.46] [INTERPOSING VOICES VOCALISING]
[00:50:52.93] Camcorder and the whole shit.
[00:50:55.28] Press rewind. Let it flow on the screen while we puffs the L.
[00:50:58.58] Do you want to play?
[00:51:02.20] I like the way your ep went down. Go to sleep. Tomorrow I'll take you back downtown. We'll be--
[00:51:06.90] Doing it and doing it and doing it well.
[00:51:24.13] Thinking about bodies and presence and performance, here is a poem of mine called, "You in Cutoffs," which was originally published in the Chicago Review.
[00:51:39.13] "You in Cutoffs
[00:51:41.74] You were maybe at your skinniest then. You wore cut-off jeans, Pumas, and a faux football jersey so tight your friends laughed and called you, 'jugs' when you wore it. You hated football, or didn't care, and had yet to fall in love with a musician or become the crying girl who'd call in the middle of the night looking for him. It was the summer to be cool and light, to be lifted and carried across bodies, until the bouncer had to pluck you from the lip of the stage and send you down the stairs.
[00:52:21.08] You'd make it back to the center again, and signal skyward with your thumb, and someone would let you step into their interlaced fingers to boost you up. The bouncer looked annoyed each time you landed at his feet, but you could tell he really wasn't. You were small and cute and easy to pass from hand to hand."
[00:52:49.15] [MUSIC PLAYING]
Julie Swarstad Johnson:
[00:52:56.95] Thank you, Rosa, for assembling this collection of recordings and for connecting them to your own work. We're thankful for your time and your thoughtfulness. Listeners, thank you so much for continuing to join us. Poetry Centered will be taking a break over the next few months with new episodes coming your way in August. While you wait, we hope you'll check out any episodes you missed, and we invite you to explore Voca at v-o-c-a-- voca.arizona.edu. You'll find over 1,000 recordings there a poets reading their work for the Poetry Center between 1963 and today. Thanks again for joining us. We look forward to being with you again in the future
Diana Marie Delgado:
[00:53:39.32] Poetry Centered is a project of the University of Arizona Poetry Center, home to a world-class library collection of more than 80,000 items related to contemporary poetry in English and English translation. Located on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson, the Poetry Centered library and buildings are housed on the indigenous homelands of the Tohono O'odham people. Poetry Centered is the work of Diana Marie Delgado, that's me, and Julie Swarstad Johnson, with support from
Diana Marie Delgado:
Explore Voca, the Poetry Center's audio visual archive online at v-o-c-a dot arizona dot edu-- voca.arizona.edu