a poetfriend (2)
I met James aka J*me aka Jamie Caroline the September day he moved into the ramshackle house I shared with a few other students in Boston. Jamie introduced me to performance poetry. My perception of that part of the poetry world had been very narrowly defined by the odd brush with slam here & there; what I’d run into hadn’t interested me, as it seemed more about an awkward emphasis on seemingly random words than anything else. But Jamie had… at that time he’d been named Best Erotic Male performance poet a few years in a row I think… Let’s keep this simple, say it blunt. Jamie changed how I felt about writing. He made me open to reading out loud, be it in a dim room under a red light or on stage in an auditorium. He changed how I wanted to write – by 2004, at 21, I’d started avoiding passion, anger, keeping things gauzy & introspective & philosophical for my workshop classes. Jamie taught me how to say “Fuck that” in the most beautiful way that I could. I’ll let his poem, one from the days we lived together, speak for itself.
Among Safe Moments
I’ll be your trigger,
unbridled steel itching in the cylinder of doubt.
Fury of scars kicking up moth wing dust
cause I know you’ve been fucked with,
silent and cool as a bonfire beneath fog.
The bustle of day has taken dreams
you’ve not held since you were a gutless child.
I know how the world does crazy things with courage
so I’ll be the gathering of gray in a false blue.
Turbine voiced and hammer fall,
mouth quilted with your name.
I’m your lucky gun and warning shot.
City or mountain town
I’ll find you music in cascading willow branches
or a bar gummed up with noise like thunder in April.
I’ll be the embrace at stage right,
the sickle and hammer of youth,
distract the glory boys while you get away so clean
a tornado couldn’t dirty you up.
I dig our weather.
But I’ve been called hurricane child,
voodoo stare backlash from knowin’ better.
If you come near my heart
—I’ll cut you.
But if your wish starts to dilate
ask yourself if a song ever gets shy
and wants to just whisper, sneak out the back
and fade into some smoky ghost
with a life no one witnessed to remember.
If you fall
ask yourself if raindrops scream during descent,
if fear changes their velocity or direction,
or if they just explode
loving the breaking after being formed by laws governing
all matter that moves without armor.
If you fell
I’d hit the ground 1st to catch you,
attack a God at your forsaken frame
cause once he met you I’d be forgiven,
sainted and graceful as a shower that takes all day
to decide if it wants to kiss some tired ass planet
and yes, so you know where I stand,
Everyone’s gonna tell you I am instigated by pain
but it’s me beggin you to put every last gorgeous card on the table,
to lay filth on the line and trade in some bit of you
for table scraps from 7 continents, billions of people,
earth fucked by time into shapes you can’t climb,
countries who’ve seen so much war
they can’t watch a movie’s mock crucifixion
cause even the Lord of your enemy
deserves better than torture in front of his mother.
Keep your eyes open
and the AV cables plugged the fuck in.
I wanna see you awestruck by cities of 16 million,
lost in the quiet of a library
looking for me in the Autobiography of Red,
researching ways to measure us in milligrams
cause we either jones or overdose.
I wanna see you cry before the ocean,
tiny and useful.
I’ll be there,
telling you Jackie Paper never left
he just had to figure out how to love a dragon.
We are lightening
across the constellation of our body.
I got your back
to belly full of guts,
a wall-less courtyard
and peacocks struttin’ color like art deco on acid.
Logic is a dime store knock off
and terror is the free gift with purchase.
I don’t need you clean,
I just need you real,
rigged cogs and pulleys hustling magic.
Pry open the rusted lips of an oyster,
milk-churned granule of sand,
drop of moon blood pearl lodged in your chest.
I want you full of world.
We are guilty and wet
lives spent diving for treasure,
ugly diamonds and pretty rust
every time you open those eyes.