September 1, 2012

Sticks & Stones ~ The Untold Story

 Down below is a video of my latest performance, which was on Thursday at The Opposite, supporting Bangkok Poetry
 The poem is old but I've never performed it before. As I told the crowd, I wrote it in university for an assignment. I read it to the class as a part of the assignment, but this was before I was aware of or into performance poetry so I definitely didn't write it with this art form in mind. But once I got back into it these past two years, I started going back through my older stuff looking for pieces that might be somehow WORK as a live performance. This is one that caught my eye. I added it to my list a few months ago, and even recorded an audio file (as I do with anything I'm getting ready to perform) and occasionally listened to it in the playlist to start the long process of internalizing it. Because it's written in blank verse, these poems take time. But if you can start puttin little pieces in your head well in advance, that can make the crunch time (when you  know you NEED to have it ready) go a lot faster and easier. As it was with this poem. 

I've been thinking about performing it lately. It came to mind as a possible foil to the poem I did at Bed Supperclub about kids. Before I knew what Junior wanted me to do exactly (how much time/how many pieces) I was preparing myself for any possibility. So sticks and stones were on my mind. 

But that night only called for one poem, so I put it back on the back back burner. And then when I got word of the next poetry night--but only after someone nudged me when I said I wasn't sure if I would do it or not And I WOKE UP--then I finally thought about what poem I would do. I could've done the Montecristo kids poem, but...I've already done it twice now, and three times in a row.......kinda makes me turn my lip up. I have issues with repetition. Even THOUGH none of the people from the first two performances were probably even at that poetry bugs me. Maybe it's cuz I think it's bad for the poem. To use it so flippantly. Like it only has so many uses in its life and I don't wanna use them all up too quick. Does that make sense to you? I really have no idea, but that's kinda how I see it. The more you use something, the more you see something, the more you are exposed to it, the more it loses its power, or its power over you. This isn't true for EVERYTHING, but a lot. I'm probably being overly cautious with this particular example, but...there is more to it than that as well.
 Anyway, so yeah, I didn't really feel like performing that poem again so soon. Which brought me to remember the poem down below. And as I soon as I thought about it, I was like, "Alright, cool. Let's do it. The time has come." And I started practicing it like a week in advance. Even changed a few words around and ADDED a whole section to it. There's a verse/paragraph that wasn't there before. I had the idea to add it months ago and it still appealed to me so I did. It's a pretty cool performance piece now. Very solid in content. And, the performance of it itself went down really well. They seemed to really like the piece. And...I messed up a little bit, but no biggie. When you mess up on a light poem, it's way more forgivable than when you mess up on a real serious or heavy poem. Speaking for myself. Even though I changed the pronouns to you for some reason. But yeah, it was cool. 

Check out the video, lemme know what you think. PEACE!



Sticks & Stones:
The Untold Story

                                                        “If he only knew now
                                                                                       what he knew then”

                                                                                                            -Eddie Vedder

I remember a time
  when the word “play”
   wasn’t sexual
 and “fudge” 

was as close as I got 
     to the “F” word

  It just 


I remember a state of mind
  in which it was logically possible
  to jump out of tree
   while gripping the thin plastic handles
     of a white grocery bag
  and parachute 

             to the ground

  Only after the sudden landing thinking
    “I must not have been high enough”

I remember a place
   where my imagination
     was my imaginary friend
   and I spent the whole days
     outside trying to keep up
         with him
  as my real friends and I
 blew things up
     with rock grenades
 (sound effects included)
 and fearlessly
       shot ninjas out of trees
    with lethal guns made of
          sticks, toilet paper rolls
and electrical tape

  We were fighting for our lives

But I know now
we were fighting
for our childhood

I remember my friends.  They were brothers, Franky and Marcial.  They lived up the street, and I played with them almost everyday during the summers, yet the only memory I have of them being inside my house was for a birthday party.  The acre of land around my house was enough. That land was ours.  The trees, dirt, and dry, brittle bushes, were so rich and fertile, we planted our imagination in them everyday and grew battlegrounds budding with forts made from the trees’ discarded skin.  It was magical.  Sometimes when one of us had to go ask permission to go to the other’s house, which ever two stayed behind would close their eyes and chant, “I hope he can. I hope he can. I hope he can. I hope he can,” until the other came back with an answer.  And every time we did that…it worked.  It never failed us. The tighter we squeezed our eyes closed the better. “I hope he can. I hope he can. I hope he can. I hope he can.” That was how powerful we were.  That was our magic.

I even remember one time where we wanted to go up to their house so I had to ask permission but I didn’t wannu cuz my mom was in such a foul mood that day that I knew she’d say no and then just by being near her I might spontaneously end up in trouble. But they really wanted me to come over, so I was like “alright, I’ll go ask but don’t do it, don’t do I hope he can.” Cuz I knew it wasn’t gonna work and we were so amazed by this power’s existence that…I didn’t want to break it, and if there was anything more powerful than our collective hopes it was definitely my mother’s anger. And we really only used it in the most urgent situations, like…a new toy, and that day wasn’t anything special so I didn’t think it was worth it. So I was like don’t do it, and they said, okay, we won’t. So I went inside and asked my mom and was like Hey mommmm, do you think I could go up to Frankie’s for a little bit and she said…“Sure,” and I was like !!!!!  but I couldn’t do that so I was like 0_0, and kinda slowly backed out the door and as soon as I got outside I ran like crazy to Frankie and Marcial like OH MY GOSH, YOU GUYS, YOU WONT BELIEVE....and as soon as I got over the hill I see them sittin there…

“I hope he can I hope he can I hope he can I hope he can I hope he can…”

It worked every time

I remember when they moved.  I remember thinking how strange it was that families would just “move.”  It made me happy to know that my family would never do that.  I knew we weren’t like them.  We would always live in that house that we moved out of a year later.  I didn’t know.  I didn’t know I would never see Franky and Marcial ever again.  I didn’t know what we had, that we were magicians.  I didn’t know that power would weaken like the bite of guilt hidden behind each curse word, or what “innocence” even was.


I'm not sure exactly when this was, but it is the house that is in this poem. I took this pic the last time I visited that town in...late 2004/early 2005, somewhere around there.  When we lived there (15 years earlier) it looked so different. Grass in the yards with climbing rose bushes and various other flowers and small trees. Quite beautiful. But at least you get to see somethin of what I'm talking about. I still love that house. Still wish I could teleport it, just like I did when I was a kid.

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