RED WHEELBARROW POETS ROCKING GAINVILLE CAFÉ ON JAN. 31
The Magic Circle series returns to GainVille Café Friday, January 31, 2020, for an exciting double feature of Red Wheelbarrow Poets. FRANK RUBINO will be the featured poet, and ARTHUR RUSSELL, who has featured before at GainVille, will return, as featured musician!
Frank, one of the managing editors of The Red Wheelbarrow and a member of the RWP writing workshop, has been published in such magazines as DMQ Review and Caliban.
Arthur has performed with his guitar several times at GainVille and at the Red Wheelbarrow anthology launch at the Meadowlands Museum.
Also featuring the rest of the RED WHEELBARROW POETS in the long-running BRING YOUR A GAME open mic.
A $9 cover (hardship? See me and I will get you in!) includes coffee/tea and dessert.
I BECOME A CHARACTER IN A CHEKHOV STORY (for Fiona Conway)
In the first story I ever read by Anton Chekhov, A young boy moves away from his grandfather in Moscow To some unfathomable part of Russia six time zones away. The boy misses his grandfather, so he decides To write him a letter. Once he does, He addresses the envelope “Grandfather.” But before he puts it in the mailbox, he thinks again, Maybe that isn’t enough for the postman, And adds “in the city” underneath.
The woman who is going to marry my nephew Sent me a note thanking me for an engagement present. She must have been interrupted between name And address. The address is correct, and her note Was promptly delivered to me. But she addressed the top line Only to “Uncle Mark.”
I’m old now, officially, and I hate it When people move away, when the Dirt Club Is replaced by a place that sells cleaners. But I’m also the kid, age 5, being driven away From the house where I lived with my grandfather, Which had a breakfast nook and a delivery hatch A small child could easily wiggle through, An attic full of wasps and a sharp Knights of Columbus sword, And an empty lot behind the house which in the Murmansk winters Of midstate New York could sustain a snow fort for weeks.
My grandfather ran a furniture store. The doors in the house were solid wood, he knew about wood. He hung a Tiffany lamp in the breakfast nook, Which was narrow enough you had to like the people you crowded in with. It was only after I moved away I learned to be claustrophobic.
The level of conversation all the workday long is tech, tech, tech— it just opens a void in me. The sad distance I first saw drawn in the comic book panels of Jack “King” Kirby has been my sorrow throughout my career.
Across his galactic splash page in Kamandi 36, and throughout his work in Fantastic Four, he spread mural-like, between one planet and another, the apartness I now recognize in the black windows whose candy-colored computer code I write.
On my dark Samsung monitor, my typing looks like Christmas lights from Mars.
If I could see across space and time like Jack did, I would see Kolomatsky’s young clean face on Second Avenue, outside the bodega where we talked. We talked on the church wall about our girlfriends one spring afternoon, and the way one can hook one’s arms around their thighs, while one’s face is in their muff. We loved those girls for letting us hook our arms around their thighs, like wheelbarrows we were dumping.
(Wonder if I was drinking my usual Tropicana orange juice.)
Whenever I break from work, and feel as empty as code, I wish I could kneel down in front of my woman and hook my arms around her thighs, and when she lets me, and when I do, I have the feeling I’m crossing space and time, like Jack did.
At twelve tons and 77 feet tall, this year’s Christmas tree is estimated to be in the same age group as me — a Norway Spruce in its brilliant final stage with 50,000 lights and a crystal star.
Who would agree to be cut down in maturity for a death blazing with glory? 65-75 in tree years is not that many compared to the Giant Sequoias who’ve been one with the earth since before the time of Christ, maybe Moses too, and have never been the type for tinsel.
The cacophony of a crackling, never-finished city whooshes in a rush of energy with the thronging, milling guests around Rockefeller Center where the evergreen holds court, so far in spirit from the tree’s last address.
Most Manhattan dwellers are transplanted from somewhere else, I’d venture to guess, and I was once one of them, unburdoned by the ghosts of Christmakkah past when both parents were alive and fairly well in our house in Halcyon Park, and the plain tree in our backyard stood healthy and tall.
Adding to this season’s poignancy is an awareness that the glorious conifer’s destiny will soon be the lumber mill — a humbling fall from splendor.
“Spruce” spent its early years on a coffee table in Florida, New York, until being planted in 1959. Admired for its Grecian symmetry, it was cherished as a friend to many. Whether bird or squirrel, it welcomed all who sought rest or shelterin its generous limbs, garnering international fame in its last few months.
Who touches more money throughout the day than the dude running the corner store? I think not a single person in the world. Probably not even a banker. Passing around quarters, pennies, dollar bills that have been around the block already themselves. He barely even thinks about the prices, his mouth just knows it when he sees each product.
I remember one time a kid was trying to trade me hella coins for cash so he could go buy a fake $2 gun. It was the one that all the kids were buying that night. I was like why don’t you just go buy it if you have the money? He said he didn’t want to look broke at the store. I was like dude, you’re like eight years old. And why would I want all that dirty ass money ya’ll been scraping out of nowhere?
It’s basically the same materials getting gathered by local fiends then getting passed between bags of dope hopefully. Same dollars needed to hold the powder in a hammock, on the curb lookin like they might just be breaking down a bag. But they also got another dollar rolled up to inhale. And those are two of the bills that will get fumbled around later, gathered together searching for a dealer,
who’s with me in my car. They look over at him to see if he got it on him. He’s sitting there telling them he doesn’t have shit. Already passed out the last of it. Already tossed the plastic baggy it was bagged up in, which, in another world, could have maybe held a little sandwich.
Meanwhile, he’s been dipping into his pockets and stuff all day. Organizing everything. Taking money in. Taking it in singles, fives, tens, pennies. Doesn’t matter. Taking whatever. Then trading the liability he got on his body, stuck to his balls or sitting behind him sloppily tossed back, using underwear as a pocket, like a cotton wallet.
The money slips into his actual pockets. A big wad of it. With me, he takes out the whole thing to pay for everything. Even if he just needs to peel a dollar off it. And as he’s doing that, I remember back to my babydad. He would have me hold all his money just to get it off his body. But even when you got nothing on you people think that you do. You get harassed by the cops, or else you got junkies coming up to you to see if you got it or else who got it?
Then at the end of the night, me and that guy could be found around the corner on my couch. His hands on my body in the warmth of the house. Got his arms all around me as if I were a fat stack of cash, but I’m small, so his arms still meet each other behind my back. Touching me gentle as hell like he’d been waiting to see how I’d feel. Then he stopped like wait he gotta wash his hands, there’s black shit on his fingertips from touching money all day.
There was this one time I fucked this dude like a week after taking a Plan B pill for this other dude. I mean, who hasn’t been there, right? Well, we had a wild night, then we woke up the next morning to a fuckin bloodbath. I mean, both of us covered in blood on some Carrie shit. Like straight up blood not period glops that are thick. This was thin red blood all over the bed, his legs, my butt. It looked like we were sacrificing a goat or something, blood all over the place. Or maybe it was some pseudo virginity thing— you know how people wanna hang up wedding sheets. It was like that.
I had to buy a new bed set, and, actually, you know I never had my hymen cracked. Like the first time I had sex, there was no blood at all. A young tenderoni on my boyfriend’s cousin’s bed while his other cousin slept on the floor. It was the middle of the night, no one was supposed to know. But his cousin turned out to not really be asleep, and, when I wrote about the experience, my father found the Word document. Then he kicked me out for it. And I was only over there cuz I had got kicked out my mom’s. All that shit going on but no blood stains, at least.
Anyway, this time, you know after the Plan B effectively forced my uterus to pour itself out, I remember the dude woke up before me, well, fake-before-me cuz I was actually up. But he sat up, and I felt him looking over at me, so I pulled the sheets over me. I opened my eyes, then he was like, Wasup with all this blood you know if you were anyone else I’d probably run.
Whole time reading Carrie lately, I keep thinking of that drunk dude Carrie dated on Sex and the City He comes to her window in streetcar-named-desire style, pops up drunk the night they broke up and strips and calls her name. Carrie! All she can’t help but think is, Hmm maybe I do have good pussy, when, in reality, a dude like that is scary. That’s a real horror story. Dating a guy in recovery and he wants to fuck too much and jump into a relationship and relapses right outside her spot, naked? She’s lucky the episode ended there.
During the time that Misty was gone, she was one of more than a thousand indigenous women missing in North America. —The Guardian
Misty Upham’s drama coach Told her to find another line of work. Despite that, she became a professional actor. You’ve seen her in August: Osage County And many others. I saw her in a movie called Frozen River, where she gets involved in a scam To smuggle people in from Canada Through a tribe’s right to move unimpeded across the international border. That’s real, guaranteed by the Jay Treaty of 1794. The white woman was the star, but you’d remember Misty in it, her persistence, her push To cross borders. She would catch your eye.
Misty Upham was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award For her work in Frozen River, and for a joint cast award From the Screen Actors Guild for August: Osage County.
Now you know one of the thousands who have gone missing. Now that you think about it, you remember her, too. Oh yeah, the quiet one. The one who played the Indian girl.
Misty achieved what she did Despite perpetual agony and anxiety. Misty was gang raped as a teen. And she was raped At the Golden Globes the year before she died. She used alcohol and a whole formulary of drugs To push on; she tried to kill herself several times.
When Misty went missing on the Muckleshoot Reservation, Local police declined to search for her. She was just out partying With other drunk Natives; she’d turn up.
Nothing fucking happened until eight days later When CNN asked why no one was looking For this notable young actress.
Her family, not the police, organized a search party for Misty. After she was missing 11 days, They found her dead, at the bottom of a ravine near the White River. Her blood was full of alcohol, but the coroner ruled He could not come to a conclusion as to why she died.
The treaties don’t protect you from shit. You lived near a border of relentless indifference, Near something inside that’s gone grossly missing.
And when they found you, Your family touched you through the body bag, Your arms, your legs, so you’d know They came looking for you.
When I passed the duty-free shop there with its perfumes, it smelled like you, after you’ve left a place. I’ve read the sense of smell is plastic, physical pattern matching: an airborne particle’s molecular shape sifted through the olfactory matrix, or whatever they call it. I am sure this jigsaw puzzle conception is simplistic and like most things I think I understand, incomplete, and the product of childish curiosity I long ago set aside for business. I remember before I got in an Uber in 2003: the flex of your hair gathered in my hand, the smell that arose from your scalp of fine shampoo from Soon Beauty on 22nd street, and the way your brain seemed so Edenic cased inside your head. So much marvelous stuff you think all the time, I’ll never know! And loving you, even, I still don’t know, and it’s come back now that I walk this bleak terminal, that curiosity.