Saturday, June 05, 2004

Dance with you when your happy, hold you when your sad

At the end he went on out and found her, and then he went on out and found himself.

-Wauwatosa adage

I first started writing snobby self-indulgent poetry in autumn 1994, Junior year of High school, in Ms. Mack's American history class. Ms. Mack had beautiful lanky black skin that shined like wet leather; a whirlpool of thick hair that erupted from her skull whenever she clacked her heels in excitement. Miss Mack loved writing; loved eccentric, standoffish students--students with a paucity of thick varsity letters void from their trenchcoats. Her voice could open these students seventeen year old chests up as if with a crowbar. She would always encourage her students to give her a little "sugar" in their essays. To sprinkle sentnces with vivid images. And if you wrote a poem, than, sugah, use wuza using God's LANGUAGE to its FULL potential.

I was in love with Jennifer Elise W***** (now Jennifer Elise who married my friend David's younger brother). Jennifer was a mousy-faced freshman cheerleader who I had the priveledge of chaperoning the previous summer on a Eurpean choir tour. She had an acerbic no-shit wry humor and potty-mouth demeanor that saddled my heart before kicking it with rubber spurs. Plus I thought her face looked like, at the time, a cross between Winona Ryder and Shanon Doherty (very Hello Gorgeous in the early '90's) even though she was about the size of Toulouse-Lautrec.

What can I say. Even though she had just graduated from eighth grade and I was still learning how to parellel park back in the states, I found myself emotionanlly gunning red lights of caution and the two of us cemented a rapport where we would cuddle and tickle and she would address me as "Big Brother."

"Big Brother. My crazy, crazy bro." She would always say before making what she called a "pig-dog" face (leftover from the German leg of our tour) and jumping on top of me.

This happened for about half the tour. We would start out watching TV in a Parisian hotel room and end up asleep, using each others limbs as a bib for our nocturnal drool.

Sometime in London that summer she started writing me letters. They were inky and each i was dotted with litte bow-tie hearts. And sometime later on in those weeks in London she fell in love with Tanner, another boy I was two years older than and was chaperoning.

Her letters became more detailed. Her body was a greenhouse where her lips were always spring. We would still kick-it after rehersals, but our body's sloppily collided less and less and eventual the saltine features of her cheeks became foreign to me

We went to the same high school in the states and that's when I started writing. My writing was pretentious and egoistic with metaphores that were both flaccid and familiar but every poem I wrote Miss Mack would give me a hug, tell me to "keep on keeping on". Even though Miss Mack knew they were sloppy, she encouraged me--and how little we have that today, not only in academia, but also in the community. Every poem I wrote Jennifer Elise seemed to scowl at me a little bit more in the hallway. I became accustomed to seeing the back of her body in her cheerleading outfit.


Here is the first poem I ever heard that sat in that place inside my chest and made me want to write. I read this poem in front of my entire high school my senior year. And, although I've never 'officially' read it to Jennifer Elise, pretty much every other girl that's heavily lassoed my heart has heard it. It's a poem by Walt Whitman that I first heard read by Garrison Keilor on THE WRITERS ALMANAC. Who knows, perhaps it was even a precursor to something I have sinced discovered. Something which, at the time, if you would have told me I would have found it, I would have probably told you that you were delusional.

"I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them, or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment—what is this, then?
I do not ask any more delight—I swim in it, as in a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and women, and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well;
All things please the soul—but these please the soul well. "

-I Sing the Body Electric.

1 comment:

daku said...

David, thanks for your answers. Can't wait to hear about Pearl. You should write a book of Baha'i lore.
Love the Wauwatosa adage line. It reminds me of the Seven Valleys story about the man who ran to the marketplace, scaled the wall, found his beloved... but somehow himself too. This is like second time I am commenting on your stuff with this story - you can tell it's my favourite one (-: I remember once I spent my high school physical ed class memorizing it (always trying to avoid physical ed that time).
Also, great poem by Walt Whitman.