Friday, December 28, 2007

i, cannibal . . .

there is the practice of eating the other. cannibalism has gone down in history as the physical act of eating people - a violent and disgusting choice made aesthetically popular in american iconic cinema in the film 'silence of the lambs', as well as within the countless anthropological and historical texts of discovery written (usually) by white men in contact with people of color.

in my studies under an amazing literary theorist, zita nunes, however, i was instructed to consider cannibalism aka the act of eating the other as an act of cultural integration. i was also asked to consider this process and the psychic function of releasing that which is unnecessary after the act of survival and incorporation ends . . . this final act, of course, is parallel to the bodily function of releasing remaining toxins and that which lacks nutritional value, creating excrement . . . piss and shit.

if one considers eating the enemy a valuable act in a world populated by oppressive forces toward the goal of rendering said enemy meaningless, one must also consider what happens to self upon ingestion, and what happens to the waste left over. it remains, regardless. still, the possibility to eating the poison and rendering it harmless and somehow a friendly part of one's being can be a particularly empowered position, especially for people of color in a space that seems hell-bent on marking one's position as limited and imprisoned.

i may be doubling back and creating a mess here (necessary and human, still), but i am wondering if we can eat the enemy, somehow. and i am wondering if in this act of eating, we can anesthetize its danger and build upon its power for the advancement of all, somehow maintaining our people's intense compassion and communal responsibility as an active agent of change within our psychological, imaginative, and emotional space of being so that the enemy within becomes an asset instead of an internalized danger to our being (and the beings of others).

this, of course, leads me to a ripe space of discovery for lola vs. aunty sam as she concludes her journey inside the psychic terrain and collective memory of gutta beautiful.

i can't wait to write the ending . . . but if i write it, how will it ever end?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

lovers' christmas

prior to leaving town for christmas, a new friend questioned the importance of actively acknowledging the capitalist machine's designated date for semi-religiously inspired spiritual celebration of christian values and doctrine for one lacking the proper baptism and/or christening into the faith. there is the standard response . . . a dead-pan, "duh" (like when did christmas become so dogmatic that it required adherence to the christian faith?), and there's the friendly combative response . . . "in my family, we celebrate christmas as a way to affirm connection to lineage and celebrate life and love among blood relations (and sympatico near-strangers and like-kin folk).

truth be told, i haven't felt so in that spirit since my divorce (now close to five years old). the reasons are varied -- finding oneself a single mother in a family so wed to patriarchy that the eldest propertied males still bless the food can cause a slight discomfort; holidays serve as a reminder . . . one no longer receives sexy lingerie beneath a well-adorned tree, blushing amdist the giggles of children, or better . . . one no longer receives an electric razor, a wink, and the slick tongue licking the bottom lip like . . ."u know u gettin some tonight". and beyond that . . . a single mother still grinding toward financial stability in a family of folk determined to pull all selves up by boot-straps in the continual movement away from sharecropping, which is closely linked to renting, causes sweat under breasts when eye brows raise at this woman's silence after a question, "so how's the job hunt going?"

but this year, i dared myself to stand firm in where i'm at . . . slightly victorius, having met some difficult goals and emerging with sanity intact, despite the realization of poverty's lingering stare -- living in a toxic rented space creates a map of sorts on the body. my physical self is now tattooed with the proof of america's stench and rejection of bodies unable to spend enough to live in safe terrain. my family members want to see the malady's tricks upon the flesh they birthed; my body testifies -- hives, swollen limbs. my family of literatti black folk scan the internet for causes and remedies. they are feeling a sense of kinship and trust in my abilities post victory. and christmas feels better for the scars. this time.

my mother and i share alarm over bhutto's assasination (we stare into each other's eyes and repeat the number of lives lost. there is the possibility of tears.) my father and i discuss the fearsome force of young men across the globe. we leave pakistan (as close as the television on the kitchen counter) and discuss the genocidal tendencies of men in the congo, and catholic and ibo males in nigeria. my mother maintains a quiet longing for a budhist world take-over. she laughs and says, "when a budhist gets angry, he will go up to a mountain and forsake all desire." i smile despite these verbalized frustrations --

at christmas dinner, my father opted not to lead the prayer and let the youngest child who happens to be male (age 4) recite the lord's prayer with all family members chanting in unison. and the next day, my father gave directions to the moving men who came to pick up my mother's baby grand piano so that it can be refurbished and returned . . . she will play again, blaring a personal symphony in anger or joy whenever her fingers and heart feel the need.

there are victories this christmas, even in the face of so much chaos. and i return to the bronx with my daughters, ready to grind some mo'.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

invasion of the body (and mind) snatchers

allergens: feline dander, mold and mildew invading the shower's ceiling from beneath chipping paint (k.i.l.l. my landlawd), peanut oil, the absence of touch, walking too far and too long, tears, loud noises, baby shrimps, and the space of waiting before the crowning of my head (now long over-due; i was born in 1973 . . . more about this later)

discoveries: it is difficult and necessary to continue walking, despite swelling limbs. i told my mother that my ankles appear normal after sleeping for close to 24 hours, but there is too much to do for me to engage that remedy as often as required. i think one of my ancestors has taken over my body. i have become some kindred seeker from the late eighteenth century who wears the black laced shoes passed on to her by her kindly mistress. they are two sizes too small. but she walks miles anyway, having purchased her freedom with the softness of her woman's thing and a womb inhabited by the seed of her mistress's all too busy husband - a magistrate and propertied white male descended from blue blood across the atlantic. this ancestor, she is stronger than i, but inhabiting the space of her being is uncomfortable. and yet, she wills me to walk regardless.

responsibilities my mind harps upon, regardless of the clock's ravenous libido for my flesh-bound and all too human limitations: the movement; the presidential election; my daughters' identity construction and safety in a world made dangerous by men who speak a language other than my own; illiteracy; sexual repression; the raping of the mothers and their land; the imprisonment of creative freedom and bodies marked by the most beautifully colored skin; moralism and poverty; ego-maniacal spiritual leaders.

ps -- in the previous post, "the pleasant and bizarre," one must note that the word 'hearst' is a convoluted form of the webster's recognized word 'hearse.' creative writer's liberties abound.

the pleasant and bizarre

it takes two train rides and two buses to get to amherst (pronounced am-urst . . . i think this is to dissuade the use of the sound much like the word, 'hearst,' which mocks the tomb-like feeling warm blooded folk feel inside the white, crisp, snow-covered landscape of new england in december).

riding through amherst center, i marvel at this pleasant space. it is so unlike the raucous boom bap and shimmy i know as the bronx. my nose sniffs the air. there is no clash of odors - no smell of piss and beer, pizza, dog shit, beans and rice, general tsao's and fried chicken. life. what is the smell of snow without bus exhaust and greying slush? what is life's sound without hip hop and reggaeton, without spanglish, patois, and arabic clipping the airwaves, tripping the muffled march of too many feet?

at the student union, i am reminded that this is still america. i order falafel after quizzing the cute, smiling, pink faced student laborer about the necessary tahini sauce. i fill my styro-foam coffee cup with coffee and hazelnut cream and grab an over-sized slice of crumb cake for desert. i sit beneath a plasma screen television set to cnn and the dizzying world of war and conquest. the anchor woman demands answers from an army expert. she, and the world, wants to know if war-torn soldiers are more likely to kill their new born infants after being ordered to murder and witness sanctioned violence over-seas. the army expert straddles some ill-drawn line between yes and no . . . there are less incidences of domestic voiolence among army employees than there are among civilians.

does anyone see the bizarre in that? does anyone notice the inherent contradiction? what is the difference between domestic and international violence? what is the difference between war waged against the innocent life of one's own child and the bombing of thousands of innocents, including babies, newly weds, grandparents, students . . . countless lives. how do we assess the value of one life over another? how do we distinguish between the horror of one violent act and so many others?

my falafel is almost too perfect to eat. but i eat it anyway. and the snow outside is almost too perfect to believe, but it's surrender under my feet and the chill of the wind against my face make it real. i sip the coffee as i walk down the concrete walkways of new england's free intellectual space inside the academy. i theorize a life here, imagining myself transplanted fully from the beautiful mess of the bronx. and i wonder how i can rebel against new england's placid illusion of safety in a world of paradoxical dangers. i wonder if my daughters will fare better or worse inside this pleasantly maintained landscape. do they need the blunt and blaring dissonance of east coast urban life? do i? and really . . . is there a true escape from humanity's bizarre justification for being anyway?

i don't know.

for some reason, my mind keeps circling back to the salem witch trials, tituba, and the journey of one seeress in a foreign land.

this scares me - the violence of being black, female, alone and forced to choose between one tight space and another less tight but rife with its own mockery and potential violent ruptures, its own history of silencing.

i haven't met its here and now yet but i know it is there. the falafel's perfection is the first sign - something will be amiss here. and i will rebel by writing through it, if i choose this particular version of worldy truth. . .