Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 12, poem 12 - H / fiction. any resemblance to actual events or people is some bullshit...


In the summer of 2005, the sting of the World Trade Center tragedy was still fresh for many Americans. For many of us, it was as much that now we were plunged full-scale into a war we knew was bullshit. For some, it was that we were all of a sudden living in a way we hadn’t before. It was the new normal. Any gathering of a mass of people in a public place was a possibility – we were told – for a terrorist attack. American cities that might be targets and smaller municipalities who fancied themselves important, all lobbied the federal government for anti-terrorist budget money. Politicians outdid one another trying to prove to their citizens that they had their safety more in mind than anyone else. As if to justify everyone’s fears, Islamic extremists struck again in London. They bombed the Underground, and of course New Yorkers’ worst possible fears came closer. The idea that millions of people at once could be trapped underground by terrorist attack was refreshed. Like the politicians, the newspapers all tried to be more right of center than the next, all except the Times, the uhm… thinking man’s newspaper which maintained a superior air of moderate leftishness sort of. The Daily News engaged the public in an attempt to show support for the Londoners and in a timeless example of classic journalistic integrity asked a number of individuals for their “Man on the Street” segment, “What would you say to encourage the Londoners, given that we’ve been through 9-11? how would you show support for them?” And amongst the tiringly predictable Trust in God(s) and You have to be strong now(s), a most intriguing gentleman from New York’s Staten Island borough says “I’d say to the people of England that they need to put a H on they chest. H is for Handle that. right now, they just need to handle they business with a H on they chest…” And I’m in Harlem right, at the home of my girl Hannah Holland, because well, we’re still traumatized by 9-11 too so we meet in the middle of the hot summer days every now and then to drink vodka and grapefruit juice. And Hannah says, “You see this bullshit?! What the fuck is wrong with our people? And we sit up in her hot studio apartment in Harlem and sweat and it’s a glorious July afternoon, as we look out the window on to the fire escape and swirl our cocktails in our glasses for long stretches in absolute silence except for the tympani of ice against our glasses, the Lennox Ave traffic and the corner boys conducting business outside.

One month later and I’m at the National Songwriters” Conference in Albuquerque, where it seems they’re a little less paranoid about terrorist attacks. Every singer/songwriter who fancies himself/herself the next Alanis Morrisette/Jon Mayer is crammed into a boutique hotel which is entirely blue. The air is electric with artists trying to outdo themselves in the liquor, drug, hooking up sweepstakes that could come with cramming 400 musicians into one small space. The hotel pool is entirely chock full with drunk people and it’s three days in and it’s a miracle no-one has died. Outside someone is trying to get people to engage in a streaking footrace down the block and I hear someone call my name saying “Where’s Anthony? He’ll do it!” I don’t answer it because sprinting butt naked only means your balls bang against your inner thighs really hard and I can’t think of anything less attractive. Besides, I’m inside with two of my best friends in the scene, Gerry and Erline, and they’ve just broken open a bottle of absinthe and I figure I’m good right where I am. I’ve just met one of their best friends, Molly, a high-school principal from Sacramento and I just like this woman instantly, and I don’t know why… yet. And Gerry is saying “wait! y’all haven’t met before? All these years, how is it possible that I’ve been friends with the two of YOU fools and you haven’t met before? Y’all are mirror image crazy people.” And right then and there me and Molly pledge friendship for life. And then Gerry says “Anthony, tonight’s your night. Tonight you’re finally going to dropping acid.” And I say “Word?!” because I’m always up for a new adventure and anything that might end in a good story is worth embarking on, and Molly’s eyes light up, because I think she’s just glad to indoctrinate someone into a club that is an unknown quantity to that person and have them dive head first. And I say, “So when?...”

So three hours later and we're high as fuck. Gerry, his girl Erline, Natasha, her dude, Jamaican Donovan, Molly, Linda, Beaufort and me. Linda and Beaufort decide not to trip, but they're having a ball laughing at us giggling our asses off. I'm telling the story of the Staten Island dude and the H he wants all of London to put on its chest. I'm laughing and can barely breathe and talking out how only Staten Island can produce some nonsense like that, and laughing, Molly agrees, says she's from Staten Island too and that's how fools from Staten Island roll. We decide that we're just about that level of high now, (it's about 3am), tha we should venture out into the world to see what is going on. We've exhausted ideas such as tying a mannequin onto an ironing board, setting it on fire and throwing it off the balcony into the pool. Gerry and Erline have alreDy pulled Molly aside and warned her that I might be the wrong one to try to encourage into escapades that are too crazy because they say "he'll actually do it!"

So we leave and walk the half mile or so to Molly's hotel. We think that watching Kung Fu Hustle in Cantonese is the move for when you're tripping balls on acid. And six of us pile into two beds and watch Kung Fu Hustle in Cantonese and I swear I understand every last word. We're still giggling our way throug everything and marveling at that part of the high where none of us can accomplish the simplest of tasks. No one can do shit and the next thing we know it's 7Am and we're still high and I take up the phone to call room service so we can all have orange juice, and the whole room stops, because anyone who can accomplish anything is God right now, and we giggle some more about who might bring the orange juice up to us and what if we have to fight him? What if he's from Miami? And the knock on the door comes and I go get the orange juice and everyone applauds, and we decree from then on that thats what 'putting an H on one's chest' means. It means handling shit when there is something that needs handling; big or small. If you step up and handle it, then you're putting an H on things, and immediately any whining is followed by "Masan, shut up and put an H on your chest!" and from then on me and Molly decide we're going to love each other forever.

So I head to Sacramento the next February to teach writing for a week at a school in Molly's district, and it's quite a week. We go drinking every evening after work and the last night, we decide to party at Molly's house and of course that means acid again, and I'm a pro now; except I can't do shit - can't change a radio station, can't close a window, can't open door. And we're laughing at one another, until one of us comes just a little off the peak enough to make some tea. And Gerry gets off work a the bar and brings more of other kinds of drugs and we get even higher and it's 7 in the morning and we're huddled in a room laughing and Gerry says "you know what? We handled it tonight. We sure enough put a H on all manners of business tonight. You know what we should do? Tomorrow morning when we get up, we should go to the tattoo parlor and all get Hs tat toed on our chests. And his words hang in the air for a moment. They're almost visible up there; and shiny. No one dares to speak, but I'm already in action, because I know such an enterprise will take some planning to get done before noon, when Natasha would have to show up a the dress fitting for her and Donovan's wedding. So I'm already dictating how much xanex each of us should take if we're to get a few hours sleeps before the enterprise. And of course I didn't know that here was a side bet between Gerry and Molly to see if I'd agree to this hare brained scheme, so the came up with the elaborate plan that would send me in this direction, little knowing that all the had to do was ask. And we all took a quarter of one xanex and slept for four hours and woke up and Gerry, Donovan and me went and got Hs on our chests, and then Molly's friend handled cancer and got it, and my homegirl handled the birth of her new baby and got one, and a man in a party hears the story and gets it and Gerry's homegirl gets one and soon we're competing to see how many people each of us can get to get an H, and we're close on 100 people countrywide and Gerry and Erline get married and a bunch more people get it and I'm going to get it again as part of my grandfather's name, Hudley. And all of us except Molly, whose hibiscus on her collarbone is all she'll claim, and thats how remake History, because someone somewhere had to remind the people of London in some opaque way, the same way we had to be reminded in New York, that everyday people are dying; babies, grandparents, fathers on their way to work, for someone else's choices, and death was a random part of life, and that we'd better buck up and stop whining; think about our places in the world, our gorgeous good fortune and shut up and put an H on it.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email ofer@blueflowerarts.com.www.facebook.com/rogerbonairagardwww.twitter.com/rogerbonairwww.cypherbooks.com


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