I came across this today while flipping through some old files. This is a performance piece, so maybe if you picture the words standing up and singing it’ll be a little bit better. Enjoy, or so I hope.
From Sweet Tea Revolutions.
Happy loner, pick up your pen and weep,
Sing songs about Love in sobs and ink
to ward Love off with every breath you inscribe
and pray to the thorn that Love is like
roses to wither and die maybe even like
Silence as the cracked tale claims
that Silence can be broken by the
speaking of it’s name.
So I begin:
Sing love, love, love
between every drop of February rain
until it burns in the black of Pasternak’s spring
and melts into ashes down the
Drain of this age bracket
taking media and annulment
not quite with it
because every silver screen screams
Love (love-LOVE-love) through
turtle backed heights of
plagiarised broken bulb poetry.
It IS love that asks along with
the soul’s amniotic sands
that your hips cup the cusp of civilizations cradle
that whispered the truths of addiction
long before science ever revealed that
the ratio of salt in seawater is the exact same
ratio of salt in the bloodstream of man.
we had already known when the world was beaten soft
by the sun’s white light that those who grow up near the water can never leave
not without a hole in them where the miracle of liquid light has been.
Surrounding and immersing, it is unlike any other in the world,
that light that dances and shines on moving waters like tongues of flame.
You’re solely to blame for this, this
lack and loss of comprehensible dialects
to cry down the consonants and
beat back the battology
of your ink.
I warn you, Happy Loner,
Love is not Silence.
You will pick up your pen and sing.
We still want your cigarettes and your morals, your petty kindnesses, the long of your short and everything in between. Insolong as it pertains to female writers in a positive/inspiring/supportive manner, we want it. Novelists, playwrights, comics, poets, screenwriters, et cetera et alia. We don’t care if you’re male (matter of fact, we seriously heart you guys) so long as whatever you’re submitting is relevant to the mission of the blog and, so you know, we define “ladies” as anyone who identifies as being female. Read the About. Get involved. Spread the good word. Like, love. Let it be sung. Remember, reblog. Submit.
post script: Yes, we absolutely do accept personal submissions. We ask only that you include a link to your website or blog or any other place some of your work may have been published. In lieu of that, a brief bio or résumé will suffice. Thank you!
My contribution. Warning- cursing & violence.
The impact of the car door slamming reverberated through my bones, buzzing and rough as if to shake me awake. My pulse popped answers to it in my ears and through the riotous din I could hear Marco yelling, “Carl! The fuck are you going? I need to get to the hospital, man.”
“Shut up. I’ll get…
“You’re dead, you know,” the painter said with the wall before him a fragment still of desire. It peeked out from strips of rolled-on white like her fingers stretching in gloves made fingerless by a merciless snip of kitchen shears. I watched as the color the home improvement store called pine needle disappeared a little more beneath a swipe of the painter’s tool and the water bill in my hand dropped the last inches to the counter.
“What?” I heard myself say. The painter had been recommended and given a key by the bar tending grandmother who lived a floor up while I was some place else, any place else. An unwanted favor, the unexpected offer of a ride from the airport by a mere acquaintance, had brought me back too soon. The painter should have been done by now. The dining room should have been white and safe. It only almost was.
I watched as he shifted to the toes of splattered western boots, stretching an arm higher to take away another slash of breathing green. He was not tall.
“We all thought you were dead,” he explained. His voice was bottled, too quiet and clipped at its ends. “I mean, most of us still think you are.”
“The hell are you talking about?” I spluttered and he was turning, his arm dropping with still a few feet left of her choices pulsing on my wall. “Look,” I shoved back from the counter, a weak laugh attempting to grow stronger in my mouth. “It’s Chris, isn’t it? I appreciate you doing this on short notice and all, but I’m not really in any mood for… For conversation.” He was young, I noticed abruptly, in college or maybe grad school. The brim of the tattered ball cap he wore left the upper half of his face in shadow, but all of him in the light was both young, I realized, and familiar. “Do I know you? I mean, have we met before, Chris?”
Drops of white shivered to the plastic protecting my carpet as he laughed. “You’re that writer, aren’t you? The one who wrote the kid’s books?” He lifted a hard hand, long fingers twisting in an attempt at articulation. The chandelier light swooped through his fingers, stabbing at the empty space the table had left behind. “With the walkers or whatever you called it and the dead magic and the quarantine shit?”
”Ah, yeah. That’s me, Jeremiah Cross.” I tried a smile on for him. “Put like that, it doesn’t sound so much like a children’s book.”
“No,” he agreed. He hunkered down, knees poking through the frays of his jeans, and with an elegant angle of an elbow and a slow, precise motion, rolled his brush into the pan of white. “You ever wander what happened to those kids?”
“Not really,” I felt my mouth grow hard. “They decided they didn’t want to read my stories anymore.”
“Not your fans,” he snorted under his breath, unraveling back to his feet. “I mean the kids in your books, in the series you just stopped.”
“Adula and Crios, Shirkey and that lot?” Each name felt like a gnawed upon rosary bead I was spitting out. Heat sunk through my skin to my bones. It needed a drink to cool.
“So, yeah. You know me.”
I pinched the bridge of my nose, squeezing my eyes shut against the unfinished wall, the sweat stained painter with a noble carriage. “Hey, I’m sorry if we’ve me, that is, if I’ve forgotten meeting you before. It’s been a long day. Your pay’s in envelope in the foyer, yeah? I.. Thanks. For doing the job.”
Keys rattled in my hand as it dropped on them and I made careful passage around the edge of plastic.
“I can’t lock up when I’m done.”
I stopped. “Right. Don’t worry -“
“You have to do that, Mr. Cross.” A final bird wing of white hid the last of her and the painter turned again, this time latching onto the bill of his hat and twisting it around. I knew better than to look, however, to see the face of the man the kid had become. I kept walking instead, the air coming in eating at my lungs. “We’ve been waiting for you to come back!”
The door was yanked open, my winter coat hanging forgotten on its hook. Crios shouted something else, but the sound of the door slamming behind me disappeared it a little more, disappeared him a little more.
The first step down tripped me, probably just to have a laugh; but I kept going. I should have known.
I had hired one to paint over another.
From “An Aching Sky”.
Pearls can worn with anything. They lay against my throat in a double strand of memory and wealth, slightly yellowed with age but lustrous with accumulated wisdom. They are the only thing I wear besides underwear that never matches and a thousand league stare. That look is too old for the rest of me.
“May!” The call comes from the other side of the door. “Five minutes!”
Catcher always sounds like he’s speaking through a mouthful of bourbon, halfway between drowning and fire. I listen to the bumbling tread of his footsteps as he wheels away from the door and up the rickety steps to the piano lounge. Five minutes. It is not a whole lot of time, but I continue to watch the mirror anyway.
I make a hungry reflection.
The dress is donned with fast moving hands, pinching and tugging until the zipper stops. Frail silk clings to my body, wrapping me up in the color of an aching sky. I don’t need to look back at the mirror to know what it does to me. Ellie May Temple has been transformed into a spotlight. Mama would be proud.
From a blog post titled little bits of bone, 29 August 2009.
When a professor at a liberal arts college that proudly promotes their open-mindedness tells their female writing students that they should have three names to publish under – one for their primary genre, one for materials written outside of that genre, and one male pseudonym – there is something rotten in Denmark. Then we learn that the professor in question is a woman and our eyebrows rise to our hairlines.
Or do they?
I would like to imagine that this professor advised her students of this with a disclaimer stating her disagreement with the prejudice this advice implies is alive and well in the publishing industry and/or the reading public. This advice, while not direct evidence of discrepancies in the treatment of men and women in the industry, is absolutely indicative of it; and, most likely, the professor was only attempting to inform and so forewarn her female students.
Thems the breaks?
The women’s literary organization VIDA, as mentioned in the earlier post announcing the opening of Fuck Yeah Lady Writers, has found yet again that there is a sizable disparity between the number of men and women writing for major publications, and between the number of men and women being published. I have been involved of late in numerous conversations regarding these discrepancies with both writers and avid readers, the result of which is a series of impromptu interviews. This greenhorn research has failed to answer many of my questions and instead only raised others.
This is a problem that belongs primarily to the people, not to the publishers. The publishers are looking to sell what the people will buy. Of course, as a couple undergrad business/marketing classes taught me, demand for a product can be manipulated to a degree by the seller.
Born and raised in the South, I was taught that gentlemen hold doors for me, carry my bags and invite me to order before them in restaurants. My brother and I were told this was a form of respect, one for me to not only accept but to expect in polite society. My brother was taught that did he fail to perform these duties, he was not a gentleman. I cannot say I disagree with this. Surely such tasks were being performed by men for women for centuries, long before Women’s Lib. Of course, back then women were often expected to defer to men in intellectual matters and were denied many of what are now considered basic human rights and legal protections. History has cast its shadow over us and where does a modern, free thinking woman know where to draw the line? Know how?
The line cannot possibly be drawn before the expectation to promote yourself as a man in order to be published. Can it? I have personally been advised by at least three people in the publishing industry to use the initial of my given name, to write under K. Bishop Sullivan or K. Sullivan Lingle rather than Kathleen. That is, I was told, unless I intend to write “chick lit” or “young adult”.
The worst part is that I have done exactly this. I have accepted this. I have expected this. Yet this, while perhaps not outright prejudice, is certainly not respect. Therefore ought I regret it? Should I change that practice going forward? Would you as a reader be less inclined to buy a science fiction novel by a Kathleen Sullivan than you would by a Ken Sullivan? Would you be more inclined to buy a romance novel or a Young Adult novel by a Kathleen over a Ken? What about the blessedly androgynous “K”?
Studies show that you would be. Publishers believe you are.
Is it true? I honestly want to know.
A male associate of mine told me that while he possesses no conscious bias in this regard, he refuses to read more Anne Rice after having read one of her books. He enjoys her genre. He appreciates her writing style. He likes her stories. So why does he refuse to read her books? He said it was because, as a heterosexual man, he is distinctly uncomfortable reading intense, sexual content when he knows the author is a woman.
That is an answer, an honest answer that I can respect even if I do not completely understand it. I want more answers. I want to know why and I really want to know what can be done about it.
I am proud to be a female writer. I don’t know how to let you call me Ken.