Monday, December 6, 2010

we are all little boys and little girls

Yesterday was my Kid A reading. It was really amazing - Cake Shop was packed out and pretty much everyone I know in New York City was there, plus a couple people from out of town. It was definitely the largest group of people I've ever read in front of.

My assignment was to write a poem inspired by Radiohead's song Motion Picture Soundtrack off the album Kid A. The song is a part of who I am, and I wanted so badly to do it justice. After listening to the song for the 10,000th time this year, I came to the conclusion that it's essentially a love letter to suicide, a tale of the battle between the good and evil forces that plays out in all of our lives.

Here is my poem. Thanks to everyone who came out yesterday. Sometimes it is like the movies.

we are all little boys and little girls

I had a discussion with a friend
over monitors
about Freemasons,
who is one and who isn't.

I said I didn't know what
the big deal was.
People always say artists sold their souls to the devil at a crossroads
to get the talent they have,
whatever talent might be.
He said,
who knows.

maybe they sold their souls to God
in the back alleys of their minds.
Because eventually the road ends,
and it's either death or nothing.

People start to believe things they said they'd never believe.
People curl into themselves under sweat-soaked bedsheets.
People tousle the clouds under their feet as they walk upon high,
on rooftops so gilded,
they strip soles of humanity.
People smoke cigarettes and flick ash into the fire.

I have measured out my life with IM boxes.
I have cried onto my keyboard,
drawing myself into a cube with tears running a river through Qs, Rs and Ts.
I have confused names and old faces and
I have forgotten who I am.

I have imagined defenestration
and masturbation
and a different nation,
one run entirely by machines,
leaving people like me
to capacitate and then undo their demons,
all while in their pajamas
or maybe never getting dressed at all.

I am a Freemason.
You are a Freemason
And you and you and him
and his yellow dog too.
It's one of those things
we can never disprove so it may as well be true.

God is a Freemason.

The fall is nearly as thrilling as the high,
and it’s a cheek turned to God.

Because eventually the road ends.
All the parts you thought made you
shut off at once.
The grinding halt reverberates off slick bricks,
the rooftop blown off.

You're left barefoot and childless.
Loveless neon signs vibrate through whiskey glasses,
wooden stools steal your shirts,
people tell you things but you can't remember.

You remember when you used to hope,
but the feeling is distant
like a city you read about in a book but never visited.

I think you're crazy maybe,
but worse yet I think you're dead.
Every day is a memory of the next.

I have seen you beg for your soul,
stirring it around in a bucket of shit,
over and over to the tune of a harp
that's strung with the hairs of the people you loved
who didn't love you back.

At the end of the road,
there’s a sign.
It is the same in all languages, at all times,
and it reads:
What do you live for?
What do you live for?
What do you live for?


I live for a newspaper pressed into seedy cement on the street in Harlem.
I live for nights spent with strangers on SoHo benches.
I live for my mother, who said you can always come home!
I live for saltwater seeping into my skin as I step onto the floor of silent seas.
I live for must, and do, and will, but never should.
I live for the guiding light of glow in the dark stars stuck to the ceilings of our skulls.
I live for muzzles butting mirrors and stretching to their ends.
I live for a saxophone in a subway station squealing syncopated sadness.
I live for reflections in rocking cars, breath beating upon bombs planted in our bellies.
I live for my disembodied spine dancing in the dark to an invisible drum.
I live for church organs and choirs and stained glass thrown across my chest, broken.
I live for visions and revisions and reversing my decisions.
I live for the smell of your incense, your insensitive hands throwing me against the wall.
I live for the fucking Freemasons.
And I live for myself,
The only person who will never leave me,
Because I won't let her.
The law of their God is in their hearts.

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