Monday, August 11, 2008

My Life As I Remember It

Last night my Berkshire neighbors, poets Taylor and Marie-Elizabeth Mali, came over for dinner. Taylor and I didn't know each other at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe--he started out in 1995, after I'd turned to other things--but we knew many of the same people. So I got out the anthology, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (1994)--with signatures and little notes from friends, it's the closest thing I have to a yearbook--and Taylor read a poem both of us remembered (it would be impossible to forget) by Bobby Miller, although it changed each time Bobby performed it. Written for spoken word, it pales in the absence of Bobby's rapid-fire delivery, but still holds up:

At two years old I whistled at the mailman
and set a pattern for years to come.
At four I danced in the sunshine of our front yard,
an interpretative dance to the gods.
The neighbors swore I was retarded.
At six I told my classmates that I was from another galaxy
light years away.
Mrs. Jackson, our first grade teacher, thought it
was necessary
to alert my parents.
By ten Mr. Grady the art teacher was alarmed by the colors
I chose to paint with,
red, black and purple.
In junior high I was considered weird and neat at
the same
time because I dressed funny and my parents had tattoos
and Harleys.
My ninth grade report card was all D's and F's
except for art and music class.
All written reports from the faculty stated,
" talks too much and daydreams..."
Some things never change.

I watched the Beatles arrive in America,
and decided I wanted to go to England.
I saw hair grow over ears and down over collars and onto
shoulders and backs all over the country.
I walked with the first protest march in Washington
and every other for ten years.
And we still have crooks running the country.

I sat in streets, cafes, corner bars and coffee houses
and listened to the beat of a new generation being born.
I went through puberty with Janis and Jimi
and took LSD when it wasn't cut with speed or poison.
I smoked pot in fifth grade and laughed all day
at a fat substitute teacher named Mrs. Potty.
I dated black boys at fifteen in an all white Klan neighborhood.
I hitchhiked to New York from Baltimore with three queens
in hot pants, clogs and long bleached shags at sixteen
and blew truckers all up and down the turnpike.

I've been addicted to MDA, tequila, LSD, PCP, speed, dope, coke,
pot, mescaline, Quaaludes, nicotine, sex
and the mysteries of the night all my life until I hit twenty-eight.
Now it's only nightlife and sex.
I've walked barefoot on twenty four hundred degree hot coals
and not been burnt.
Greta Garbo grabbed me from behind in traffic and
saved my life.
I've had green hair, blue hair, black hair, red hair, no hair, long hair
and all before 1973. I'm happy to still have hair.
I've walked Sunset Blvd., Polk Street, Forty Second, Hollywood and Vine,
Christopher, Fire Island Blvd., P-town, Key West, Bombay, Miami Beach,
London, Paris, Rome, Milan, Montreal,
and every gay ghetto street listed in the book
and I'm still looking for the perfect lover.
I've lived as a woman for a solid year and had tits,
thank you!
I've dated black men, white men, brown men, red men, yellow men,
and several delicious women.
I've been engaged, married, in love, separated, divorced and brokenhearted.
I've had syphilis, gonorrhea, crabs, scabies, hemorrhoids, hepatitis,
appendicitis, dermatitis and the flu at least fifty times.
And I feel better now at forty than I did at twentyfive.
I've spent the last eleven years meditating, concentrating,
contemplating, applicating, educating, investigating and instigating
a higher ideal.
I've been a born again Christian, a crystal-holding new age
visualizationist, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Christian scientist,
a Universalist, a bullshit artist, a seeker of truth, a charlatan,
a holy roller, a shamanistic dancer, a guru, a disciple
and an enigma to my friends.
I'm a triple Gemini natural blonde who loves God and takes
time out to smell the roses.
I've been around the block at least ten times and I'm ready
to go again until these feet won't carry me anymore.
I have always believed in the power of love and that the groove lies somewhere between the heart and the genitals.
I have never been deliberately cruel and I've never hit anyone
with my fist. I hope I never have to.
I've been a whore, a saint, a sinner, a healer, a heathen,
an actor, a poet, a drag queen, a straight man, a teenage zombie,
a punk rocker, a greaser, a clone, a faggot, a streetwalker,
a skywriter, a vegetarian, a teacher, a student, a wanderer,
a caretaker, a wild thing, a father, a son, a yogi,
and a fierce hairdresser.
I've been lost, found confused, absolved, punished and rewarded.
I've stared death in the face and wondered why not me. Yet.

I've talked and listened and heard and seen and been shown the way.
I've played follow the leader, pin the tail on the donkey,
five card stud, and Russian roulette with a silver handled .38.
I've lost eight thousand in cash gambling and won
five hundred on a bet in less than a minute.
I've seen the eye of God and been touched by her hand.
I've seen miracles happen and been disappointed dozens of times.
I've been almost everywhere, met almost everyone, seen almost everything,
done almost all of it, and I'm still waiting to be discovered.
The night has a thousand eyes and I'm a gypsy dancer
who's still hungry for more.

Bobby Miller


martha miller said...

Wow, he's a Triple Gemini? He has no choice but to do everything, and to do it rapid fire!!!

CAP said...

Is it my imagination or does your blue sky background seem a little gray now?

Carol Diehl said...

Yes, it's just a tad gray today--I think because I'm annoyed at Hillary for wanting to take over the Democratic convention--I just can't believe the Democrats are practically being given the election but can still manage to screw themselves up with selfish power grabs--will brighten it up and then maybe I will brighten up.

CAP said...

It's often said that the Democrats have a self-destructive impulse, and that this is part of their charm.

Unfortunately Hilary is still a Clinton. She can't get over it and neither can Democrats. It's too bad she couldn't be more gracious in defeat, but I guess these things really find out your character.

One day (soon) a woman will be President, but one with a lot less baggage.