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Spring 2020 Issue (Part 1/3)

Introduction

by Archie Gayle

I write this introduction from home. I have been advised to stay home by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the City of Houston, various celebrities on their smartphones and, most effectively, my mother. The COVID-19 pandemic has reached the majority of the United States, Spain, Italy and many other nations as their citizens shift to an indefinite period of quarantine. Local restaurants and global franchises host empty dining areas while their drive-thrus are perpetually packed. Grocery stores are stripped of their products as fast as the employees can stock them. And health care professionals tend to as many people as possible while experiencing a nationwide shortage of medical equipment.


Before the virus, a flood of cars marched down Interstate-69 at a snail’s pace during rush hour. But now traffic is rare because the only people driving to work are essential employees. Do all the people stuck at home miss the little moments in life like traffic? Do they miss the awkward small talk with the cashier at their favorite coffee shop? Do they miss that burst of serotonin when they saw their best friend at school or work? I’m sure they do. And I’m sure that many others miss their employment, as the widespread of the coronavirus has forced millions of U.S. citizens out of their jobs. Some families have been reduced to one source of income from an essential employee family member. Others are less fortunate and hope that their government officials step in with adequate financial assistance.


Being stuck at home during COVID-19 is reminiscent of being stuck at home during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Thousands of Houston citizens lost their homes while others were barred inside. Gray clouds covered the sky like a dome, blocking our view of the sun and our vison for the future. But one day, the rain stopped, and the warm sun shined brighter than anyone had remembered. Soon, friends were reunited, and family members held their loved ones safely in each other’s arms. That is how I hope this pandemic ends, with this excruciating quarantine followed by joyful reunions.


It’s times like this when you understand the value of art. Art seamlessly connects you to others through a transfer of joy, anguish, confusion, etc. One of my favorite ways of artistic connection is by reading the Bayou Review. Amid this global pandemic, this semester has given us fantastic fiction from Japan, powerful poetry from a traveling professor of English and wonderful works of art from creators all over the city of Houston. These works of art can teach you something new about our world or whisk you away from its realities. The works in this book can lift your spirits up in uncertain times like these.


Thank you to the artists who submitted their works. Thank you to the faculty advisor and interns of the Bayou Review for working under these circumstances. And thank you to our medical professionals, service industry workers, drivers and other essential employees for your work during this time. I sincerely hope everybody and their loved ones will make it out of this pandemic safely. And without further ado, I give you the Bayou Review.


In the Beginning Was a Body by Alexis Mercedes

My body is a room and I am filling it with anything but dust. Can I grow old with myself?

I want the world to be filled with a glorious cacophony like the world I live inside my head: the really real. It’s what madness feels like when I repeat the groaning of the centuries— Job said he was mere dust

Paul said the earth was groaning

God said let there be Me and in the beginning, Me was beautiful to a small being like I.

O small troglodyte, o small wonderer

I was so worthy of Your adoration. I’m told that I was a kaleidoscope of disaster in Your green, abundant garden of No More.

In truth, my body is tired of making room for Lovers who don’t Love me

like the myths said they would,

tired of men who feast on skin and thieve kisses like they are Miranda rights,

(not the soft, heady flowers they are on the dark windowsill).

I am fired up until I am one big candle, dripping

onto one long page of rights I read myself

—you have the right to remain your own for as long as you’re able—

and I am repeating all other women like me who suffer

from so much wax in so much little space.


Portrait of my Mother by Alexis Mercedes

My family tends to scatter.

We were taught by my mother

and that time we went to Santa Monica pier, I was young

but I knew that when Mom wants to be alone

she screams at us and into the great big.

We all disappeared for hours.

When I walked away with my sister, I spent the next few hours

kneeling in the sand—where the pebbles scatter

into blues, reddish golds, marbled greens—with my big

Ziploc baggie. I thought about my mother

who wanted to be alone

while all that time passed and I was so young.

I watched her from a distance, her thin, young

legs reflecting in the water as she dreamed about the hours

she could have taken for herself had she been alone,

without that first baby at 18. She may have scattered

amongst the pencil skirts in her dream job had she not been a mother,

her belly so round and so big.

In her belly, my long legs bulged big

and pushed against her skin. My young

soft mouth pursed in a pensive frown. My mother

sang to me after I was born, for hours.

Her voice filled my ears and scattered

through my brain, sounding again and again in my head when I was alone.

It was that song Jesus Jesus Jesus I sang alone,

but in the kitchen, her yells reverberated through such a big

raw throat, angry about anything, and the glass shards would scatter

across the floor. I heard them, my ears were still young,

so I held my body close in the long hours

and sang to myself like a mother.

Years later, I am out of the house. Here sits my mother:

I watch her in the white rocking recliner, alone,

swaying softly and watching tv for hours.

My tears are wet and big

and I don’t think she has loved me since I was very, very young.

I will not scream, but I do scatter.

She is my mother. Alone in my mind, the memories scatter

into small years, into hours,

when I was still young and her love was so full, so big.


Green Light, No

by Katt Pittard

I

Girl in a flannel

Girl had a piece taken out

Girl in a coma

II

Girl is too drunk

Girl is four leaf clover green

Couch looks like home

III

Girl is hanging meat

Girl has got bright caution tape

Girl looks like a treat

IV

Girl can't fight now

Girl is flying high right now

He says no for her


Weird Feelings

by Todd Snider

As you sit at a table in your 7th grade home economics class, your gaze wanders to the ceiling and you become intrigued with the arrangement of pockmarked foam ceiling tiles that surround an occasional pair of fluorescent light tubes that seem to vibrate with manic abandon behind their pebbly plastic diffuser panels. You begin to notice how you might trace out letters of the alphabet by following a path of tiles out and up and around. Or numbers. Your eyes track the sequence of tiles that form a figure eight around two banks of fluorescents. Faster and faster you imagine yourself in a racecar driving the course, tearing around every turn at breakneck speed, your tires on the very cusp of losing their grip on the road, mere inches from the car that threatens to pass you on the outside, and then you hear a noise on the periphery of your consciousness. The noise grows louder and louder until you realize with a start that shakes you out of your reverie like an exploding crack of thunder that it is your teacher yelling your name. In a flash, you realize all eyes in the room are focused on you. You hear the giggles and twitters of your friends and the girls at the next table. That’s a weird feeling.


Seated at your desk in your office in the early afternoon, you are staring at the monitor full of code on your computer, trying to segue your brain into thinking clearly about the problem you were working on before lunch, when your eyes start to close. You let them close, assuring yourself a few seconds of rest is just what your eyes need. Your brain is saying “Ok, ok, let’s get back to work,” but you can feel your head getting heavy on your neck and your chin starts to drop and your forehead is pitching forward with increasing velocity. Your brain goes into panic mode screaming “Wake Up!” and all at once your eyes pop open and your head snaps to full attention. Automatically, you check the hall outside your cubicle to be sure there is no one there. That’s a weird feeling.


Around twenty minutes into your lunch-hour yoga class, you feel invigorated. Your body is warmed up. With a sense of inner peace, you stand on your foam mat ready for what comes next. With legs split wide, feet pointed forward, arms out to the side, you take a breath in, and then you exhale as you start to bend from the waist. Slowly. In control. You feel your abdominal muscles grip and release to keep your torso straight. As you continue to descend your chest towards the floor, you feel the muscles in your back begin to take on the weight of your still outstretched arms. Bending further, you feel your hamstrings stretching, but you feel something else too. In the last few inches of your stretch you feel a small pocket of air in your lower intestines begin to move and then before you have a chance to take corrective action, the pocket of air bursts from your rectum emitting a short loud blast as if from a trombone. Bwwaahhmp! … The room is silent as the blood rushes to your head and you strain to hear any acknowledgement of your sonic outburst from your fellow yoga students, but there is only the serene voice of the instructor, “Ok, … now inhale, … then exhale as you come back up.” That’s a weird feeling.


It is your first MS150 group training ride with the local bicycle club, and you are excited. With your new cleats clipped into the pedals, you are one with your new super-light-weight road bike with the racing tires and top-of-the-line derailleurs. You feather the brakes as you cruise into the parking lot of the farm market road gas station / food mart - the first rest stop for today’s ride. You’re off the seat, standing on your pedals, thrilled to show off your new ultra-sensor spandex bike shorts with strategically placed padding and the new ultra-hip bike jersey that wicks the sweat from your upper body and keeps you cool, squeezing a little harder on the brakes as you search out the right place to stop among the small crowd of bikers munching on their protein bars, drinking their various colors of sports drink, and chatting with each other. Finally, you come to a complete stop in your selected location and in that moment you realize you have forgotten to disengage your bike cleats from your pedals. What is about to happen plays itself out in your mind’s eye in discomfiting detail before your bike begins its plummet to the pavement. In those few nanoseconds you devise a hundred different strategies to defy the laws of physics or at least look good trying, but then … well, gravity. Your bike starts to tilt and you capsize, bike and all pitching slowly, inevitably, pathetically towards the earth. You take the brunt of the fall on your hip and your knee, letting the momentum carry you onto your back. It’s over in the blink of an eye and you have survived with just a bit of road rash and a tear in your shorts. As you climb unsteadily to your feet, you see the small crowd of bikers have taken notice. They are laughing, hooting, and some of them are even applauding. That’s a weird feeling, but it’s really not so bad. You laugh, then take a bow.


“You Can’t Always Get What You Want…”

by Kevin Mathis

“He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.”

-Henry David Thoreau[1]


Oftentimes I enjoy a walk in the evening to clear my head. There is something about the cool evening air that works to usher out any confused thoughts I may be harboring. To walk, to amble, to saunter, it becomes a certain type of therapy. Alternatively, sitting idle too long develops in me a certain type of anxiety. There is something about stepping outside the door and into the night that instantly gives me a sense of purpose. Being able to walk without being bogged down by car keys, wallets, or cell phones, makes me feel as if I’m at least getting a taste of feeling unencumbered and free. To walk without a destination, with no awareness of the time, helps me to grasp at a small sliver of this freedom. To walk with such inconsequential purpose is incredibly liberating.


One particularly dull evening I started becoming restless. Feeling listless and lazy I knew I needed something to cure my boredom. My mind was wandering in that sort of wobbly kind of way. I couldn’t seem to focus. I thought about making a drink, so I stepped to the kitchen and perused my selection. I thought it would be a good idea to make a cocktail. Looking at the various ingredients I decided on the classic Whiskey Sour. Only problem was I didn’t have any lemons. There was an old bottle of lemon juice in the fridge, but I’m particular when it comes to fresh juice. The only option was to procure some fresh lemons. It was a nice warm Sunday evening, so I decided it would be a good idea to go for a walk. I knew it would help to clear my head a bit, the fresh air would do me right, plus I could have fresh lemons for my drink.


I live down the block from several drug stores and gas station food marts and I thought surely one of them would have fresh lemons. I knew the drug store was a long shot, but I decided to go there anyways. As soon as I set foot outside and started my stroll I began feeling that haze on my head floating away. I breathed deeply and set a good pace. The night air, while balmy, was still welcoming and calm. The last few birds flew home for the night, the cicadas began their chants, and soon the bullfrogs started their song. As I turned the corner down towards the drug store, I took particular notice of the trees. I have a friend that calls this time of day the “Magic Hour”. You know it’s the magic hour when the trees become dark silhouettes against that certain type of indigo---when the last drops of sunshine start receding into the blue black sky, and the world begins its slow drift into evening. The everyday landscape I’d passed by so many times soon takes on a new shape and image.


Taking note of the small bits of nature amidst the urban sprawl is not always easy or obvious, but this is one of the ways in which walking works to clear the head. The word itself, “walking”, implies a slower pace. When I’m not driving in a car---distracted by the myriad of advertisements, stressed out by other drivers and traffic lights---I am given a chance to take stock of my surroundings. To truly observe what lives around me. When I’m driving I have to devote all my attention to the road. I am part of a hurried and forceful machine. I cannot stop to observe the birds, the silhouetted trees, or the flowers popping up from the concrete cracks. I must continue to move or suffer the consequences. There is no freedom when driving really. Despite any romantic notions of the open road, driving is intensely regulated and controlled. Speed limits, stop signs, traffic lights, speed bumps, four-way-stops, three-way-stops, merge left, merge right, left exit, exit 22B, mile markers, white lines, and yellow stripes, all control the movement of the driver. Walking affords one the pleasure of being in motion according to their own rules.


To a certain extent. Certainly when walking in a city one must be aware of their surroundings, observing crosswalks and the like, as I did while walking to the corner drugstore. And while this walk was refreshing, there was something lacking in it. The crosswalk made me realize that I was not completely free to wander as I pleased. I thought this over as I entered the store.

Just as I suspected they didn’t have fresh lemons. They had bottled lemon juice, sure, but for me it was fresh lemons or nothing. I thought it odd that a drug store like this refused to carry fresh produce. I understand the logistical side of why that may be, but it still puzzles me. If a store is going to commit to selling food there should be at least some effort to supply fresh fruit. It really seems like it’s the least they could do.


Giving up on this big chain drug store I went across the street to the gas station food mart. It’s a small shop with a bare bones inventory---candy, chips, soda, cigarettes and the like. I went up to the counter and asked the clerk if he had any lemons. “No, all we have are these.” He pointed to a meager looking basket sitting on the counter. It had apples, bananas, and oranges, but no lemons. I politely refused; “No thanks, I need lemons for a recipe”. “Do you like fruit?” he asked me. “Here” he said, handing me an apple. “Take it, it’s all yours”. I was somewhat dumbstruck. I thanked him and we said goodnight. I stepped back outside apple in hand.

This act of kindness instilled in me a gracious mood. I felt more invigorated than before. I bit into the crisp, juicy apple and enjoyed the crunch. With this newly gifted bit of sustenance I felt as if I could walk for miles and miles. As I continued my walk I snacked on the apple and my thoughts turned back to the big chain drug store. Why is the tiny food mart able to provide real fruit and the big chain is not? Perhaps because big chains only bother to provide what is immediate and convenient. Again, logistically it may not make sense for the big chain drug store to carry fruit, perhaps I’m asking too much, but I do believe it is indicative of a larger cultural trend. In the city especially, one expects to be able to obtain whatever whenever. Online ordering, drive thru lanes, instant movies, instant music, the list goes on. Grocery stores are able to carry what might not be in season, food is freeze-dried and wrapped in plastic, and bottled lemon juice is always available. But why not fresh fruit?


As I continue my walk I think on Wendell Berry and what he would say about bottled lemon juice. As I walked alongside the busy street in a third desperate attempt at finding fresh lemons, I felt the pressure of the city encroaching on my mind. What haze was lifted from my head before now joins the smog and exhaust and clouds my brain once again. When the city starts to get to me in such a way I start planning my next camping trip. I mull over what would be the best weekend to hightail it out of the sprawl for a while. Wendell Berry writes how “that roar of the highway is the voice of the American economy”[2]. The busy streets and hustle and bustle mirror what it is our culture prioritizes. American culture demands comfort and instant satisfaction. To have every lingering want acquiesced is what Americans demand. To go camping and throw oneself into the throws of the wilderness inherently alters this perspective on life. Being in the woods there is no other option than what you have right then and there in front of you. It boils down one’s material possessions to only what is necessary. Any luxury one desires in the woods must be carried and dealt with. As such, one soon learns what is truly essential.


If I were in the woods and I did not have a lemon, I would try and figure out how not to be as concerned with finding a lemon. There would be no use complaining about the lack of lemons. Unless there was a lemon tree nearby I would simply have to accept the fact that I didn’t have any. I would have to drink the whiskey straight and forego the sour. But in the city, I expect to be satisfied instantaneously. Not having lemons at my house, I had the option of walking to the drugstore. When there was none to be found I became slightly frustrated. This frustration I believe is the result of having unrealistic expectations and prioritizing nothing more than instant gratification. Spending time in the wilderness helps to alter this perspective. By removing even the option of such creature comforts, I am able to focus on attaining a sense of restfulness and meditation. In doing so, I become relaxed and able to observe and simply be. To not worry about my immediate cravings and desires, but to enjoy the restfulness that comes from trying to recognize what one’s true place in the world may be. Ironically in a city full of millions of people one can become quite lonely. It is in the wilderness, away from people, lights, and cars that I feel most connected. As Berry describes it, “the absence of human society, that made me so uneasy...now begins to be a comfort to me. I am afoot in the woods. I am alive in the world, this moment, without the help or the interference of any machine”[3]. With a slight change in perspective, a slight focusing of the lens, I begin to differentiate what is essential to both body and mind. I begin to focus on what it is I need, not what is simply available.


For me one of the best parts of a camping trip is the coming back to the city. Like an extended evening stroll, the wilderness lights in me a new view of my city dwellings. It affords me the opportunity to observe it from a different angle. In the city it becomes easier and easier to take things for granted, to lose sight of what is essential. There is a scene in the movie Castaway[4] that always stuck with me. Tom Hank’s character after being stranded on a desert island for years, finally makes his way back to civilization. Throughout his time on the island he struggled to survive and had to fight for whatever he needed. In one of the final scenes of the movie his character is sitting in a hotel room waiting by himself. He notices a cigarette lighter on the nightstand and picks it up examining it closely. With a simple flick of his thumb he snaps on the lighter and there before him is instantaneous fire. He pauses to reflect on the struggle he went through to have fire on the island. Now, what was once a commonplace item, seems much more significant and marvelous. In a similar way, coming back to the city I gain a refreshed view of the world. I take notice of life’s small nuances; to appreciate a warm evening’s stroll, to observe the birds and the backlit trees, to savor a gifted apple from a stranger, and to accept the fact that life doesn’t always give you lemons.

[1] Thoreau, Henry David. “Walking”. Walden, Civil Disobedience, And Other Writings. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008. Print. [2] Berry, Wendell. An Entrance to the Woods, 670-679, 2016. Online. Pg. 676 [3] Berry, An Entrance to the Woods, 2016. [4] Castaway. Hollywood: Robert Zemeckis, 2000. Film.

SHAMED

by Zaida Quezada

She’s clever.

She sits up front so that my eyes bypass her to the ones in the back.

She’s learned to deflect others line of sight.

Do you notice she’s anxious though?

The rattling key chain, the restless knee, the pencil twirling in disdain.

I approach her to help, though she’s apprehensive.

“I’m sorry! English is my second language, it’s bad.” She struggles to sit upright.

“That’s why I’m retaking the class…” she sighs.

Suddenly I remember first grade, when my Cuban accent had consequences during reading time.

“You’ll need to be held back a grade if this continues.”

...She had to apologize…

That’s because she was not from here, she doubted herself.

That she could not word her thesis made her insecure.

Oh sweetheart,

You doubted yourself because you were once told you weren’t white enough.

You felt insecure because the educational infrastructure wasn’t made for you.

Ten minutes later, she speeds out of class. 45 minutes left on the clock.

She was intellectual—intellectually daunted.

Just like the system wanted her to be.

Immigrant

by Pallavi Narayan

when you are an immigrant

you have the imaginative field

of an entire other culture

at your disposal. which

culture is, however,

the other, what have you

othered, why and how are

the precise countourings

of this othering. what are

you inspiring when you are

animating a vista into

being, is that what is your

essence, that blue-sky vision.

and then are you not an alter-

-(nat)ing self beguiling its other

I into an immigration?


Bullet Proof Coffee

by Heather Bayless

I cannot eat my way in fiber enough

to my friend not wanting to kill themselves.

Probiotics won’t help, neither.

Silly child, the podcast host says,

grinning with teeth so white I can hear the bleach bubble,

it’s not you who needs to eat the fiber,

it’s your friend!

They do not understand.

My friend doesn’t need to “break up” with sugar,

align their amino acids, nor shoot peptides into their left butt cheek after 16 hours of fasting.

They cannot spinach-line their way to a will to live.

I, myself, was not cure enough.

I have taken my shirt off for this friend,

I have danced on my toes and I have joked and taken

those jokes too far and it is not enough.

Probiotics and a good

shit won’t clear his mind.

Leaky gut isn’t the problem.

Trust me, Mr. Podcast Man, like I trust you with my

grocery list: if there was a reason he’d kill himself

it would not be for abundance of lectins or lack of love.

But I guess we could give it a try. Mix butter and MTC

and keep it all clean. Wear the blue-light blocking glasses,

filter the fluoride out of our tap water.

Maybe his last hope on this soil-sucking earth

is bullet proof coffee

If only he drank coffee and if only there were such a thing.


Untitled Poem

by Christopher Miguel Flakus

Black coffee and it is afternoon now and still not a word

Cruel cigarettes and

Smoke like ghostly minarets

Dances through the air

I missed this dark of evening

And dinner

Earl Grey Tea

With soymilk

And hot water

There are a thousand combinations

Oblique

Outstanding

And little paths through the woods

And trees

And dirt

Gathering at my feet

A falling, percussive world

A crashing

Of days

I missed this dark of evening

And solitude

Alone amongst books and paper

Waiting only for a word

And what if I wait forever?

Would it matter?

Let the pressure build

Stay sound in your head

I missed the time to myself

And yet I feared it

-being alone-

Perhaps more than anything else, I feared it

There are a thousand combinations

Interred

Invented

Waiting to be wrenched from nothingness

And shaped

And the little lake surrounded by Hawthorn trees

Shields me from these thoughts

Some call them The May-Trees

The ancient Celts believed they marked the entrance to another world

And although I visit often

I have yet to find it

And the coffee is cold

And the dishes tower in the sink

And my last cigarette is smoked

Coyotes whimper in the blue night



And still not a word

And still not a word


High Society Type

by Shane Allison



Girls and Misses

by Shane Allison



Cordial Hospital

by Shane Allison



Ugly Beautiful

by Shane Allison



An Interview with Shane Allison

by Madelyne Lehnert

Shane, I love your art. It shows an appreciation for pornography and overall beautiful attention to the human body. What inspired you to create these collages?

Erotica has always played a significant role in my art. Whether its poetry, fiction or collages. I believe it has a great deal to do with the struggles of being queer and black while living in a small town. I'm from Tallahassee, Florida where the LGBTQIA community is small enough to fit on the head of a pin. Literally, one queer bar in the whole town. Growing up, I did not have the outlets and resources that might be available in a large city. I compartmentalized sex as being secretive. It was something I enjoyed, but a part of me always felt shameful for having sex with men. I felt that way for a long time when I was younger. As I grew older, I learned to take responsibility for what I did, and who I was. I learned that queer sex was nothing to be ashamed of. I considered it a revolutionary act. I joke about how it must have come from watching all of those Madonna videos in the eighties, but truthfully, Madonna was a huge influence on me as a queer youth and writer. She was always brave, bold and full out with who she was. I still love that about her. I took a page from her book. I don't set out to shock anyone. I create from experience and honesty. I don't sugar coat anything. In these collages, the idea is to go deeper than what is on the surface. A guy posing with a hard-on is not porn. There's a difference between porn and erotica. A guy posing with his dick out is erotic and beautiful. It's no different than figurative drawing. I love this new direction I have been going in.


How do you find the pieces to create your collages? And what does that process look like?

A good friend of mine sent me two boxes filled with old vintage gay porn magazines, with some fashion mags mixed about. I told him what I was doing, and he was happy to help. I put an ad on Craigslist, back when they still had a “Personals” section, asking for magazines. A guy replied telling me that he had a bag he wanted to give away. He instructed me that they would be sitting on a stoop in a paper bag where I could pick them up. It was weird, but I was fine with it. I also like the use of things I find on the street or I will take things from work. If I see a piece I dig, I have no problems taking it. It becomes something different the minute I rip it out of a magazine or off a wall.


Now I know you write as well. Is the process for your writing similar?

It is, somewhat. When I'm feeling something, I need to get it on the page quickly. I write everything out in longhand, so of course, I always have a journal or notebook with me. Been like that since high school. I'm always carrying a backpack around with me. I have hundreds of journals.


Do you have a piece that you are most proud of? And if so, why?

I like most of what I have done lately. The earlier work I have done I have reconstructed, which is what's so great about collaging. If I don't like it, if it doesn't excite me, I rip it up and use it for something else. That always works. I love my decalages. That deals a great deal with working with texture. I love that. I love the imperfection of decalage.


So, you said that being in a small town was hard, but you had people like Madonna to inspire you. Is that what you hope your work can do for others?

Oh, I sure hope so. I hope what I do has a positive effect on LGBTQIA kids coming up. Especially black queer boys. Be bold and balls out in who you are and what you create. Never let anyone dictate your creativity.


What inspired your poem “He’s lost his mind in Fayetteville”? Who is that bus driver?

I was in Fayetteville waiting to change buses to head back to New York. This lady was scolding her son for acting out. She said, "Boy, you done lost your mind." I was pretty tired and ready to get back to New York, where I was going to grad school at the time. The bus driver was just a bus driver. My bus riding days are over.


I like your poem, “High School Epithalamion”. there’s a fast-passed rhythm of each name that flows well. Who are these people?

Those are guys I went to high school with. I don't know all of them, just a few. I have another version of this piece that is more derogatory.


I know you say you grew up in Florida, where do you call home now? Do you still have a connection with Florida?

Still Florida. I work every day to call someplace else home. It's working.


Are there any writers you like to read or artists you view other than Madonna that inspire your work?

Andy Warhol, Joe Brainard, Frank O' Hara, Allen Ginsberg. His sexual stuff. The political stuff can be long-winded. Langston Hughes, Charles Bernstein, Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker, Anne Waldman, Cy Wombly. Any kind of experimental writing or art I love. Artists who think outside the box.

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