Sunday, July 31, 2016

In Other Words

A conversation about languages made me think about this poem, written some time in 2004 or so, well before the deaths of my brother and mother.  I've fallen away from poetry, writing or even reading it, but it may be time to correct that.  Poetry recommendations welcome.  

In Other Words

My first word: “Dada” --
not at all referencing
Dada or Dadaism, a movement
based on deliberate irrationality, anarchy, and cynicism --
the rejection of laws of ordered beauty
the organization of social language.

Tower of Babble
My brief rule over language:
drop initial consonants
Red Pinto
becomes Ed Into
Collie Pop
Ollie Up
Irregular declensions:
My sister Susie -- Zusie and
Horses: Drop H, add W,
Worses. Tommy, noun, brother,
informally, Tom Tom
from the drum, silent except
when played, sound without words. 

Spanish Fly
In eighth grade love with Señora
Ramos, seagulls are gaviotas,
not the bloated scavengers that lumber
toward me at la playaGaviotas fly, float
weightless over water like lazy curls in
black hair, soaring fuschia lipstick.
French Kissing
Ninth grade, Johnny Bouche in Paris
Hearts penned on the bottom of my shoes
oozing scented Valentines with every step.
Love, squish, squish. 
I stole a picture of him waving
all American Knight in front of the Eiffel Tower,
pinned him inside my locker.
Dadaism: French, from dada, a child's word
for a horse.
A decade.  Johnny is at the A&P,
buying brie and wine with his lover,
I say, Bonjour and keep pushing
my cart full of ripening pomegranates. 

Back in the USSR
Mariama Akimnova taught us to
toast properly with vodka.  We
memorized a Pushkin poem, so if we
were ever arrested by Soviets
They would recognize our
Ya vas luboul
I loved you.
They would whisper along
Я вас любил.

Last Words
Michelle, standing in line for
chemotherapy, swarmed by
paper bees.
So what are you in for?
K- k –k - she said, learning
a new meaning for an old word,
stung, allergic.   

Persian Love Song
Two phrases in Farsi:
The first
man toe ra doost daram
means I like you.
The second
gaeedamet means something close to
fuck you.
I learned to write I like you

I found meaning in squiggles and dots and
read right to left. 
I used man to ra doost daram
to mean not just I like you
but I love you. I couldn’t
pronounce the word for love, couldn’t form the
’ ’click in the back of my throat.
I didn’t know how to love
in Farsi. 

First  Love
Words from my brother
picked out letter by letter
assisted by facilitated communication 
assisted by Oijii board, experts say.
We ignore them.
Words took a 30 year wait.
My brother’s finger lands on a letter. 
An arm, not his arm, pulls his hand back. 
My brother’s finger lands on a letter.  Drip drip
the faucet leaks, no torrent, but steady. 
he says. 

In yoga class, bald bandanaed Michelle
teaches me that in Sanskrit
satya means truth.  I move my body in sequence. 
I see my brother stroke his throat, using
the sign for thirst. Mariama toasts him
with vodka. Señora Ramos dances with Johnny,
flying birdlike across the floor. A drum sounds, and
my tongue flits over the roof of my mouth, mining for sounds
hidden between my teeth and caught in my hair, succulent
words singing: Dada, man toe ra doost daram

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